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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    November 14, 2012
    12:00 - 5:00pm EST  

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for. >> look, we've heard this this, you can't do lucy, charted on the football against a raise taxes now, that is not going to play in my judgment with any of us. we are not for raising revenue paid, certainly. second, remember we're at the 18 months ago we passed the debt ceiling increase, and now it's time to do the second debt ceiling increase? we're just a couple months away from having to go to that debate again, and we get to do any of the promise cuts from the 115 months ago. so where are those? this idea that race accident, we promise we'll get to the cuts, now we promise we'll get to the customer american people are saying are you serious? i think is really problematic. >> let's understand the big picture here, and the presence of philosophy. i've been watching, i remember him looking us in the eye the date was february 10, 2009 when he was selling his economic
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stimulus plan, and he said fdr's new deal actually did work but he should've spent a lot more money and then the records would've shown it. it seemed to me he was looking at writing of unexplained, he convinced me that he is a keynesian economist on steroids. when i look at this sequestration deal, and the fiscal cliff, and i think what does the president want. he doesn't want to reform social security, medicare or medicaid. he's got obamacare mostly in a position where it's going to be awfully hard to stop it now, interest is another entitlement. that's five entitlement. if they all collapse into the general fund, that fit his philosophy perfectly. and by the way, he's happy to cut the military. and so i look at this and i think of what does the president want out of this deal? if the negotiations collapsed and the bush tax cuts went away, then it looks to me like that might be his goal. and is again out of jail free card is, isn't quite free but
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it's get out of jail in a way card, it's i want to respects is on those making $250,000 more. that was essentially his promise to joe the plumber for years ago. the president has a very strong hand if he holds the line of because everything and does nothing, he gets almost everything he wants. on the other side is going to take a strong, strong coalition of conservatives do this to get and keep any fiscal responsibility here, and the fiscal cliff is not the most dangerous thing. is going off the fiscal waterfall later on into greece air a insolvency that i'm concerned about. allowed this is going to be a shred on the part of the president just to find a way to blame it on republicans. [inaudible] >> one thing that's different than two years ago is that this, we're about ready to crash through the debt ceiling with nary a cut that had a should've the two of the credit rating agencies, but there's another credit rating agency that did
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not downgrade, that indicated if he did not make the cuts, the men and cuts that we're talking but is likely the sequester. and to suggest we shouldn't any type of sequester to bridge that, since it pretty clear signal not just american people can isn't a clear signal to our creditors that this president, this administration is not series about the financial situation we're in. and i think that would lead to downgrade of outlook b by and/or perhaps a downgrade in the credit of up to me is the difficult thing leches bridget for a few more months, you're kidding seeking foot $3 trillion, there's a cost of doing the. the debt deal which followed three days later, by a downgrade, by one credit rating agency by for the we set a signal that we're not serious as well. i swear the new colleague of ours, welcome, mr. kramer. thank you for being here. i appreciate you joining us. >> thank you. [inaudible] [laughter] >> i think that all the time as
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well. [inaudible] governor of new york has said it's a disaster from hurricanes and is going to cost about $30 million, 30 billion in a state of new jersey's as the is to come in but it could be that i. if we need additional disaster aid, would you support it or would you insist that you did last you, that it be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget? >> i'd like to see whatever the final numbers are, i know there's preliminary estimates. i will say when you indicate that we decided to be offset, i think many of us in the room decided that. that was actually not the case. that's actually outside that you. disaster relief, this is a big chunk, but certainly this is an interesting and typical situation we find ourselves in. in order to help new york and new jersey, federal government doesn't have any money.
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we essentially it have to go to the federal reserve board go borrow more money. and so we will look and see what those are but that becomes part of this scenario, this explosive situation, whether the fiscal waterfall or other, so we wait to see what those numbers are but i know there are others that are closer to that that are concerned about that's well spent i think one of the things about disaster relief in the northeast is, first of all there are people suffering there, and we have, we have a track record of helping people out there in those kind of disasters. katrina, there were big mistakes made dana katrina. there's tremendous amount of money that was wasted dana. there wasn't a plan to spend it. they came to us first with a request for 10.5 kilometer's, and i supported that. that lasted a week ago back in front of us with a request for 51.8 billion more dollars, 50 billion for dean the complex check. 1.8 billion for the corps of engineers. i asked for the plan, and
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finally, finally i went with down to that unless i valid as your spreadsheet and want to see the support documents for the spreadsheet if it's the spreadsheet i wan the spreadshei want to see the adding machine tape and if it's not that i want to see the dartboard vegemite from the dart at. at you i think they did throw a dart, figuratively speaking and ended up on 50 billion. and we know what have i been at the next it was by 32 a.m. when i got e-mail from josh bolten promised me that day he would give me the plan i have the got the 51.8 billion. in that was included to hundred, 300,000 trade houses in the original plan of 270,000 of which were backorder, not to build yet. was $55 million in net plan for, get this, mitigation of future disasters. so there were opportunists in the katrina disaster, and we know that there was a lease $1.44 billion of that was wasted or fraudulent with duplicate social scene up and whatnot and had to do things like for
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suppliers -- divorce lawyers. this unmasking, especially the governors of the state to submit to this congress a complete plan on, not only were these resources need to go but what kind of protections are there so that they go to the right place. that gives me a long ways down this path and the ability for offsets by don't know that that's a dealbreaker in a time like this. we don't have that pattern that we've set for that so i've been looking for offsets so we can get them. [inaudible] the role that you believe paul ryan should play in this fiscal negotiation, what would you like him to do? and how influential do you think you will be on your group? >> i mean, i think, i hope he's front and center with this group because, or in this debate. these probably are best
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spokesperson i have serious fiscal situation is and what needs to be done to remedy it, put us back on the path we can ask or sustain. i was, i think all of us were impressed with how paul handled himself on the campaign trail. so i hope he's right in in the middle of it. my anticipation is he is going to be, i assume that's where my colleagues are as well. >> if i can just add to that. when you step back and look at the election results and look at some of the conclusions that some have drawn, we are going to need clear voices of leadership to lay out an agenda for the future. i think all is a very important part of that. actually i was glad to see him come back into conference. it was an extremely well in -- warm welcome with a double standing ovation for him. but we're going to be clear voices particular provision for the future. that is, how to get to balance in the face of the spender we have in the white house?
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what we're going to do about it balanced budget amendment? he's been a good supporter of the. even though i know the one version he didn't support in congress, he is articulate that support during the campaign true. we need to lay out an agenda at how we're going to get to fiscal solvency, and paul ryan will be a very important part of that. >> if i understood correctly during conference this month it would be part of the republican negotiating team as we move forward, and i will be voting for the web to make sure he remains my budget committee chairman. we've got things to face now. we have again, even bigger things to face a bleak in the very near future. >> could you talk a bit about the farm bill, what your priorities are and what you are working on right now in? >> well, i just, i look at the work product of the committee and i would like to bring to the floor during the lame-duck. we've we've negotiated a lot of
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this. the senate has their version after. i don't want to look at the prospect coming back in a new congress and have to start all over again from scratch. and i think that the disagreement out there our democrats don't want to cut snap program, and, in fact, they want to continue to expand it. and most of the act producers have given up direct payment. and that's the senate and house version of that's a big line along would've been there for the farm bill. so i think our disagreements have narrowed themselves, and perhaps have an opportunity to bring a bill to for although i haven't talked to leadership since i've been back in town. i've only been in less than 24 hours. that's what i want to get done and get to conference to get it done before have to start all over from square one. >> i agree with many of those comments and i think all of them, but i think the principle remains is what the farm bill is about, it's about food stamps. 80% of farm bill.
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we have the whole ag committee tied by the 20%, and we have a 80% whether growth is at and projected growth and where it's grown. we had 4,711,000,000 americans on food stamps announced at 5:30 p.m. friday. massive increases under this administration. the responses, we can only say 4 billion in the senate bill, that's silly. 4 billion out of $800 billion? i was in a room with representatives of 18 different states that are saying we need food stamp reform. give us that. we could target and transform the program to make certain those go to the most needy, not those that are able to game the system. would have how those type of reforms the iphone offering the amendment on the floor to start the process, but if are going to do a farm bill should include fundamental discussion on bases we can improve. for people with changing the program and we hear tremendous suggestions again from multiple states, folks on the front lines in saying this is what we need, we can do a better job. if we have that opportunity, we
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can work to fargo, that will be part of that discussion. like any other entitlements that is coming from this administration, yeah, we can spend $80 billion a year and we don't want to reform the. this administration says they don't want to reform the, the senate republicans have done a great job but hopefully that will be a battle if and when we get to conference over what's in the bill, which is $800 billion for food stamps out of a trillion dollars in back and on the ag side, too, there's an imminent i would like to point out. we have the states that have over the last several years been the referendums, you need to regulate the means of production of our agriculture products. a state like california might be fine that has defined a is coming to california shall be raised by hansen student cage size. start out being free range. nancy pelosi impose free range hens from exum re- -- in the captors in the building is remember. that california agenda violates the commerce clause of the
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constitution that where interstate commerce is regulate exclusively by congress, not the state. and our founding fathers understood but it needs to be stuck. i did put an amendment on the farm bill called the pike and mimic to protect interstate commerce an amendment which prohibits the states from regulating the means of production of our act product but there's a list that exists in the code. so that takes the states like california and arizona and florida out of the business of telling us, and iowa, how we're going to raise hands and produce eggs and how we're going to raise cattle and raise hogs. that's an important piece that as many fight in this campaign to go to have a lot of play in the press but that something was got to hold in the farm bill and that's another reason i want to get it to conference by the end of the year. >> i do hope that the farm bill comes to four, this bill, i hope it's an open robe that the amendments, process can take place to i would anticipate conservatives bring an amendment
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to split the component from the agriculture component that i don't get the votes for it but once and for all let's at least start to have this debate. severing of foodstamp provision of all the ag policies. since i'm surrounded by kansas, iowa, north dakota, would you gentlemen like to speak as will? >> well, speaking as one who campaigned very strongly in support in, strong support of the proposed bill without apology, i can tell you that the farmers of north dakota like the house bill just fine. not only did they not find any objection to $16 billion more in cuts to a program that is grown by 50% in the last four years, it only amounts to 2% cut in food stamp program, but they like the fact, in the house version of the bill, while giving up direct payments, which they're happy to give up direct games, what they didn't like in the senate version of the bill was of course this conservation
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compliance for participating in the crop insurance program. they don't need to be told how to form. the congressman talks about big production. in north dakota its wheat. and other commodity products they don't need to be told how to sustain their lead. assisting the that is more important to them than anybody uzbeks of the conversation compliance rules if i'm really quite offensive. and so i would love to see you all vote on it and pass the house version, or at least vote on the house version before it become a congressman. it would be of great relief to me. but i think it's a classic example of, of, the work of conservatives truly compromising where compromise is appropriate, and then solving the problem. >> serve. [inaudible] >> for the justice department to hack into private e-mail accounts, considering that, is that anything that concerns you?
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>> i don't believe i read a report this morning that they had a subpoena. do you know about that? and i don't asking myself the question, what court did they go to for that subpoena. i don't remember the source of that. i just, in my glory night trip around the internet i recall picking that up. it's worth asking the question that i appreciate you asking but i don't know the answer. >> i don't know the answer to that but i know i was struck, forcing their members, i've been struck by the lack of willingness of this administration, just them or previous administrations to share information with those of us that are supposed to make critical foreign policy decisions and the budget process. very unwilling, and certainly this is another case of the. but i was struck as well that, you need to tell me the head of the cia uses gmail?
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[inaudible] >> to communicate? it just struck me that i'm very concerned about the. and, obviously, there will be some areas into this but i see this coming, and apparently he has agreed to testify, as he should, like everybody involved should be testifying in his and provide as much openness as possible. i look forward to the committee taking a lead on that. [inaudible] >> some of your colleagues on ssi, senate republicans are time of making a deal with with democrats to find a compromise. first of all, what do you make of those efforts? second, how far are you willing to go to to strike an immigration deal with democrats? >> well, that is a good question and i wouldn't have been surprised if i didn't hear it. i think that, i seen a bit of a pattern over the years of people coming into this congress and taking a look at the immigration issue and thinking that they have been negotiation skills to
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resolve one of the most complicated and convoluted and far-reaching issues that i've seen in this congress. i do think there is a simple solution to this. each time there's a proposal that's brought up, i see whole series of pitfalls. one of them is, it is going to be some kind of a proposal to try to reach an agreement, it has to do with the promise that they'll be enforcement of immigration law, how can even propose such a thing with this president in the white house? when he's clearly violated the constitution, even by his own definition of the constitution, and by executive edict, issued work permits that's a fabrication of the president of the united states, not an act of congress. every other document that allows people to be lawfully present in the united states, other than a birth certificate is generated by this congress to the president directed uscis to produce a work permit for those people that are the beneficiaries of his dream act
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as some powder i think the promise of enforcement as far left of the with and it is ever have given the president's defiance to the constitution. that takes it very difficult for any kind of agreement to come out on immigration. and that's one of the pieces where we are, and then come and then you will know that on the republican side, there's been some lead voices that made the comment that they believe that because of the loss of hispanic vote that marginal loss of hispanic vote, that we can build a coalition again in less we do something to make accommodations. and i think that, you know, people who come there from those countries often come from corrupt countries where they don't have the rule of law. i think they appreciate people being equal under the law here in the united states, and i don't want to overreact to those numbers, but there are other things after we should look at what happened about the conservatives who stayed home. what about the largest gender gap we've ever had in history?
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what happened to the ron paul coalition and the libertarian coalition? there's a number of reasons why we didn't add up to 50% plus one vote across this nation. so i don't want to rush into that, but i'm open to having a discussion about it. and i don't know how they're ever going to offer enforcement in exchange for an accommodation if you've got a president that defies his own oath to the constitution, and his own definition of these limitations with regard to immigration. >> i was an immigration lawyer for 15 years, so as a conservative voice i understand what steve is saying, but i think we have to realize as republican party that we're never going to be a majority party if we don't figure out a way to reach to the hispanic, to reach the hispanic community. so we have defined what i call, and i been talking about this for two years but where to find a conservative consensus on immigration. we have to figure out how steve and i are going to sit and agree
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on a bill, and people at this table that will actually do something about a broken immigration system. one of the biggest things can service talk about often is that we want to fix a broken government. well, if you know anything about immigration law, the immigration system is absolutely broken in the united states. we need to get away that people can come to the united states to a legal system. we have to do something about border protection, i'm a big fan doing something with e-verify. all those things we have to do, but at the same time we have to forget what we pashtun we can't keep punting the ball for the next congress to fix this issue. so i'm trying to get the conservatives here in the house to work on this issue, to find a solution to the immigration problem. because if we don't find a solution, then yes, we had all these other reasons why we lost and we can enumerate all of them, but one of the main reason we lost is because romney at 27% of hispanic vote.
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if we continue to get 27% of hispanic vote for the rest of our lives, we will continue to lose every single presidential election that is out of. and there's a way to do it, because the hispanics agree with us on social issues. they agree with us on fiscal issues. they are usually business oriented. they believe of all of the things that we believe in. they don't want higher taxes, but we cannot even reach them with a message if they feel that they are not welcome in our party. so that's something that i'm going to work under i'm going to work for the next two years, and i hope that i can work with people like steve and people that are, you know, from the far right to the far left on this issue because we have defined a solution to this problem. >> one thing i'd like to add on that as well, i've hired people like raul two different times to adopt children and ashley through the process that obvious is a mess, doesn't make much
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sense but there's some common sense things we can do. but this president, just now, he has had four years. where's the proposal? there hasn't been one. we need some leadership and it starts there, and it certainly had electoral impact, taking on how you can do. but in my particular district, the president is supposed to represent the whole country. 51%, i know that's difficult for them to do there but my district there's tremendous -- in terms of status can in terms of design, in terms of whether they want to be citizens or not. where they just want to be able to work here, and there are folks that are working the system as well, illegally. but all it needs to be looked at very closely. there are no simple answer to this is actually one that cries out to the president of the united states to quit politicking and get on with each other. you have for years. you have for years, he did make a proposal. that was the type of it will take many months to work through the. i appreciate the leadership from
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folks like this can and will follow the very closely. and you're going to the frustration and people like steve. you have a president and you that we're working on immigration reform in congress. they're trying to get people like marco rubio, like myself. he decided by executive order to do something they had no authority to do. and he decided to do something like that, and instead of advancing the ball on immigration, what he did is he poisoned the well so we wouldn't be willing to work on immigration reform. if you think about it, the only reason we didn't have immigration reform during the bush administration is because two gentlemen, rahm emanuel in the house and barack obama in the senate decided to vote for an amendment to the immigration bills that actually help the union. they were backed by the unions, and they decided that they would poison the well by voting for those amendments that killed
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immigration reform. nobody talks about that in the immediate, but it was liberal labor unions and those barack obama in the senate who decided to poison the well. he did it again this time, and i think as republicans we have to be smarter than we have been on this issue in the past. we have to look past the easy of the other side and find a rational solution to immigrati immigration. >> i find common ground with that analysis, raul, and i think also that marco rubio has done a very good job of articulating some of the things that emerged from this white house, and not, not, i don't know that you can, you can make a very strong case that republicans have been hostile on this dialog so much as it has been the president's leadership that's divided people in a whole number of different categories and he is profited from it. i recall a statement made by senator rubio, and he would be
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more eloquent than i can recharacterize it here, but that the president has divided people down the lines of race, on ethnicity, on gender, on class, and each time for his own political gain at the expense of the very direction of the civilization of the culture of the united states of america. and we're going to have to produce out of our republican team here, that means the whole american team, a voice that can heal that back together. i think that's what the essential components that we have to put down on a way forward, how we heal this country back together as americans to stop the class warfare, which is part of this fiscal cliff, class warfare, stop the ethnic worker, stop the gender warfare, stop the sexual orientation warfare. it's all divided, driven by the president to pit people against each other because he calculates that he gets the political gain. and i think he needs to be held accountable for that. history will. we need to this time. >> we have time for one more. this gentleman has been waiting
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patiently. [inaudible] >> over the long haul, in the spending debate, is paul ryan's budget plan still kind of the starting point for you guys? or will this discussion right now change? [inaudible] >> remember, even that will solve this problem, so we've at least got to get to paul's plan. many of us support the republican committee budget which we thought was made even more sense because it got to balance at a much quicker, much shorter amount of time. i think that's at a minimum where we need to go. because i mean, think about, the white house, their budget, then again, not a single vote in the senate or the house, you know, 535 to zero, whatever. depends on who was present at the. didn't get a single vote. the senate hasn't come up with one. so certain that's got to be where we hope to at least get to
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that level. if are going to have any chance of solving this problem. >> one other item. things have actually worsened considerably in the outlook, that we based that budget on. and i believe that's the starting point but again the sequester, the word around and the president himself announced a nationwide initiative it, we're not doing sequester. i don't now what does that by executive order. that's pretty interesting. but if you don't do that you have a debt exceeding issue and the potential downgrade. so i think the situation has worsened, but that is the only, that is the only reasonable solutions has been on the table for our two years up here for the freshman. so that certainly the starting point. it is the only serious discussion point. alice ribbon has said it again and again and other folks are saying that as well. so we're looking for a serious proposal but as i understand, the president again is offered the same, they got no votes this morning, and again if it's 2009
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all over again, mr. president, we're a lot further in the hole than when you started. >> i would just quickly say we need a budget that balances more quickly than the ryan budget balances. we cannot survive economically even going down that path. i'm going to be looking for more an rnc budget gets his there before go off the fiscal waterfall that i described earlier. [inaudible] i'm beginning to understand how that's optional real new revenue or sea-tac about dynamics? i don't know if you want to go down the line here. [inaudible] >> let's go there first. what i hear is he's talking about reforming the tax code and that we will get revenue through growth. that's what i hear. i don't know if that's what everybody is hearing as well. so, at this point i think that
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should be our line, that we will be okay with real revenue that comes through through growth in our gdp. spent i will add one other thing. i think it was pretty clear. no increase in tax rates. >> pretty clear. we can talk about revenue. ..
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[inaudible conversations] plenty of comments in this conversation about president obama and the so-called fiscal cliff. the president is meeting with business and labor groups to talk about a series of expiring tax cuts, across-the-board cuts scheduled to take place. the present meeting with members of congress later this week and at 1:30 the president will be holding a news conference to talk about these meetings and plans for negotiations. we will have live coverage of that on c-span2 in about an hour at 1:30 eastern.
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senator egullet announced this morning that he will caucus with senate democrats and means they will have a 55 crusco 45 lead on the senate side. meanwhile house democratic leader nancy pelosi has a conference this morning announced that she will stay on as democratic leader. she will continue to run for
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that post in the house democratic election and steny hoyer, the democratic with the current second house democrat will also run again for that position. overall on the senate side of things senate democrats' plan to elect their team for the 113th congress today. they will select their committee chairman and republicans also planning to re-elect mitch mcconnell of kentucky and other party leaders will include john cornyn of texas and he will succeed john kafeel as the minority whip and they've also announced today the national republican senatorial committee will be headed by rob portman and the culture will be the senator looked from texas, ted cruz from capitol hill. treasury secretary to m. geithner spoke yesterday about the fiscal cliff and the financial situation. he was part of the annual wall street journal ceo conference in the nation's conference. his comments are about a
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half-hour. >> the people in this room we told them before you got here and buy through the beat code 2-1 they do not expect a deal before we hit the cliff. no more information although there is a bit of a highlight of the dominican republic which we haven't figured out. [laughter] i think there is a lot of anxiety in this room about the fiscal clef. do you think that we are going to go over the cliff or are you confident your site can get a deal with the other side before we get there? >> we will have to see that there is every reason to believe
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that this is a solvable problem. it's true we have a lot of challenges as a country but there's a lot of support for trying to do things that will help. there's obviously universal support for extending the tax cuts that would remove the greatest source of anxiety and risk in the fiscal cliff and there's a lot of support for finding bipartisan consensus on other things would make the economy stronger white a set of commitments to finance, a high level of public investments in infrastructure and education and a lot of bipartisan support for that. i think there's a lot of support for doing the obvious things you have to do. you have to pass an extension tax of the amt is very important to do. you listen carefully there's a lot of support for trying to make real progress on the long-term fiscal soundness. there's a lot of benefit in doing that for the economy.
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how you do that is important. so i think this is a solvable problem and we want to do as much as we can to take an advantage of this opportunity to make some progress in each of those fronts. >> there's one thing about which they're doesn't appear to be a lot of agreement and that is should the bush tax cuts on the overt and hundred 50,000 crowd be extended or should taxes be raised? >> i heard jay carney an hour or so ago say the president will not agree to anything that extends the tax cuts on the upper brackets. that sounds like a line in the sand; is it? >> i do think it's important to start by acknowledging -- we find it is encouraging you've seen the republican leaders the past couple days explicitly embrace the recognition that and support for as a part of the balance of the fiscal reforms that raise revenue. that's very important. that's very encouraging. you don't recognize the basic
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reality how you govern a country like this in the challenges we face. so i think that's good and usable. you know the president's position is very simple let's extend the tax cuts removing the greatest source of potential uncertainty and damage in the fiscal cliff. let's put in place a balanced set of fiscal reforms that recognize the reality that they now in a race. the most fortunate is 2% of americans have to pay a larger share of income taxes, moderate share of income taxes but he's not prepared to extend the upper income tax cuts and let me explain why that is the case. if you look at these questions carefully and thoughtfully, we have done if you look at the amount of deficit reduction you have to put in place over the next ten years, if you recognize what the realistic share of revenues to attribute to that and if you believe as the president does that we shouldn't be asking middle class americans to pay more on taxes, then i don't see how you do this
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without higher rates. just don't think there's any fee of become feasible way to do it. >> it's not possible to raise money for upper-income people by closing loopholes getting rid of deductions, limiting credit and stuff like that? >> what we have proposed as a part of the balanced package is a package that would raise roughly another 1.5 trillion in revenue. that's about 1% of gdp to put it in perspective that 1 percent of gdp. to do that with a mix of modest rate increases back to the clinton rate which was a very good economy for the american economy and business sector for private investment and activity growth and to combine those three forms of limiting deductions for upper-income americans. now it's true there are other ways to do that but there's a lot of magical thinking about how much money you can raise from tax expenditures. a lot of people have looked at that question and concluded i think incorrectly that there's a
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huge amount of resources you can raise and i think that's just not true. so when people look at this and look at it carefully there comes the suggestion we raised which is to do enough to restore fiscal stability, to be careful what you do to the long-term growth in the country, and to make sure we are not adding to the burden on the middle class americans you're going to have to do so for the rates and deductions i think that is a realistic consensus and i think that's what the political consensus ultimately will join and that's how we will solve this. >> are you saying the republicans don't agree to raise the top back to where they were when bill clinton left office going over the fiscal cliff? >> i don't see a realistic way to solve this without a recognition. let's see the positive side. it's encouraging use in the
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leadership recognize we are going to have to generate and that's a good recognition, but you know, we're just at the beginning. we will see how that goes. i agree this is going to be tough. i know the lack of clarity on the resolution is going to be a burden and cause some uncertainty but we have to go through because we are going to govern this country better if we are going to find a better way to make sure we are supporting things that will improve the long-term growth in the country we have to figure out a way to resolve the current divide on these basic questions about the long-term. i think that is worth trying to do. >> well, as you have said and the president said we have to both raise taxes and restrain spending. the president's proposal so far on medicare has been largely limited to the provider side. is the president going to leave
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here with a proposal to do something different on medicare in order to get the republicans to back off of their position on the rates? >> the president has put in his budget and i don't think enough attention has been given to this, hundreds of millions of dollars in carefully designed reforms to the health care system that is designed to reduce the cost. we recognize there's other ways to do that, that there are hundreds of billions of dollars in detailed specified policy reforms in that context, and i think those are going to be given a careful look now is that we have an election behind us. in addition to that he's proposed hundreds of billions of dollars and other savings in what's called the other parts of the government, other mandatory, things like that. now people can design those things differently. different ways to do it. and he's prepared to look at those things but we are going to start where we have in which a those laid out to the estimate i
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put out my budget come here is, i won the election, take-it-or-leave-it. >> that's not the way he said it in the language friday and that's not what i said. i'm saying we are taking a look at what we have proposed because they are very substantial and the magnitude of savings you get. as a point of comparison, they are larger in the tenure window than the health care savings proposed by simpson-bowles. secure to look at those and we are going to take a careful look at everything, too petraeus connect what happens if we go over the cliff and the republicans can't bring themselves to raise the top rates and to accept what you're offering? >> i don't see why i can't speak for them and make that choice. why would you want to put the economy through that? because typically after conceding a recognition that revenue are going to have to go out and after conceding a recognition the revenue has to go up on the most fortunate
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americans, why would you decide to take the economy over the cliff and put it through the damage it is going to cause because you are unwilling to agree to a modest increase on rates for 2% of americans? it seems deeply implausible as a strategy, and they should be avoidable. >> why aren't you saying to avoid a the economy going off the cliff we are willing to entertain a different way to get money out of the top 2% that might involve some rather radical restructuring of all the deductions, exclusions and credits? because i think again when you take a cold hard look at the amount of resources you can raise from the top 2% of americans through the deductions, you will find yourself disappointed relative to the magnitude of the revenue increases. we are looking for 1% of gdp. it's not enormous but it's still consequential. you will find it hard to do that
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unless you want to raise taxes quite meaningfully on middle class americans. now, i know there may be people who argue that's a good policy. but even if you think it's good policy you think it is more politically realistic? you think it is politically realistic to get a deal that is going to involve some tough things on all aspects of the government and how much you spend by saying instead of a modest tax increase we are going to have a broader tax increase across a broad range of americans is that politically feasible? remember in any framework that restores the fiscal responsibility you're going to be asking pretty significant sacrifices of the broad swath of americans, but everything that happens on the spending side affects much more broadly in this context and with the president proposes an agreement with a ratio if you include the changes last year roughly two
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and a half dollars of spending cuts on the revenue and when you think that the spending cuts, remember those spending cuts would cut significantly into the basic functions of government transfers that affect millions and millions of americans. that's why there is that recognition that we think the shape of balance is going to have to involve that mix of rates and reforms. >> i feel like i'm watching the same plays with the same actors. john boehner still in the house for the time being at the treasury. the president is back in the white house and harry reid is in the senate with a few more seats. why should i believe this would end any more positively than the summer of 2011? >> because again i'm not going to try to talk to you in optimism but let's look at what's changed. you have republican leadership acknowledging for the first time in this debate in public that it's agreed to increase in
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revenues as part of an agreement that helps restore fiscal balance. that's a very important change. you can debate on what motivated that change, and of course it's true that approach has been a popular very substantial support among the american people. you have a much greater recognition that the economy would benefit on a carefully designed balanced agreement on fiscal reform and putting it off indefinitely is not good for the country. that's important, too. and i also think again if you listen carefully to what people are saying and what many politicians are saying with many elected representatives are saying there's a lot of consensus on things the would be good for the economy. again extend the middle class tax cut that's 98% of americans tax certainty agreed to fund a carefully designed long-term program of larger public investments in infrastructure that's pretty good for growth. meek sure we are doing sensible things in education so that we are educating a future americans
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with a better capacity to compete in this world. those are things with broad bipartisan support and they would provide the basic anchor to mention for an agreement. >> if we do go over the cliff at some point you are going to need the congress to raise the debt ceiling again. and so, it seems to me the president's leverage is all up to the end of the year. if you fail to get a deal and say we are going to let all the taxes go up and the president will go on tv and say i tried, the republicans were abstinent, doesn't leverage shift to them because you need the debt ceiling and the president said and you said raising the debt ceiling is unthinkable? >> i don't think so because again, anybody that looks at the experience of the cost of the country of the strategy of those republicans employed last year, would find that an experience they do not want to repeat, and i think that it's a very simple position which is you don't put the credit of the united states at risk ever. you can't threaten to default on
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the credit for the country as part of some game to get marginal advantage on some policy question. never been a way to govern by any of our predecessors, republican or democrat. so, mauney view is that people were part of that and they are still there and they will draw the experience and do that to pass the debt ceiling and with less drama. it was enormously costly and damaging. >> and what is your role? are you going to stick around until they get a deal? >> i'm going to play a very valuable role until around the inauguration. estimate what the ask a couple questions about the rest of the world and then we will get the questions from the audience about the fiscal cliff. how would you evaluate the state of play in europe now?
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>> i think what they've done over the last several months is very important, but it's a much better position to more carefully manage the incredible difficulty of the reforms for those countries high and the way that europe is governed and run on the policies are still in the prospect. even with the most compelling political will and the greatest agreement was are going to be very difficult reforms that will take some time and what they've done over the last several months is to give them a framework that makes that possible. but they still have a lot of tough decisions ahead. what i am going to refer to in this case is the combination of the firewalls that the government agrees to and what the central bank is foreshadowed but over the next few months there is a question about whether spain will need a bailout and ask for a bailout and whether germany will improve the spanish bailout. if they don't, then all of the
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ecb offers are basically useless. you've told us a few months ago you thought that the catastrophe in europe had diminished to the part they were manageable but they seem to be arriving. >> you are going to see and i think this will be true for years you will see a lot of uncertainty about the contours' in each of these additional steps and increase over time that it's in a position where it harder for them to bar the sustainable rates and those are credited difficult and consequential uncertainty. but i think by much more credible recommitting as the leaders of europe to take out the risk of catastrophic failure from the equation from the markets they bought themselves the space without that much damage on the rest of the world and i think it is very valuable. they have to demonstrate they are willing to do those things but they are in a better position to do that and i think even with the defense of the last few weeks. again, i don't think it's surprising that greece is still
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hard and the government has done enormously difficult things over the last few weeks. very, very tough reforms and i think those reforms will be rewarded by more support from the europeans. you are going to see uncertainty about our aspects of this but i think they are in a much better position than they were even recognizing the challenges they have a head. >> what do they need to do the next two or three months? >> they have to be doubled to demonstrate that they are moving to put in place economic reforms that make them more competitive, reforms to the way of the financial system of europe is governed as something like the bank you described, and a better mix of constraints on the fiscal ability to borrow in the future. those are the key things they have to make progress on and that's going to take an incredibly difficult complicated amount of political negotiations over the next years, several years. >> and china, so will the new leadership in china once they are established what will be the
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things that you will be watching for? what are the clues that we will get to the direction? >> i think the big question is what will be the shape of the next generation of economic reform in china. again, they have done -- the tad a remarkable record in the last 30 years guarding the scope for property rights and private enterprise, managing a really remarkable increase of income broadly spread growth across the economy. but they've got a really difficult set of challenges ahead as the population ages and they have run out of room to use those path forms of stimulus to get the economy running in the short term. so you're going to be looking carefully to what they do to the way the financial system works. again, to expand the scope for the private investment, private initiative that our property reit not just for us but the chinese leaders to expand opportunities and the status for consumption to reduce the role of the state-owned enterprises and people are going to look to
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see what is the new direction going forward? and the indications that we have are that the people that are going to be at the center of that government going forward are very much committed to that path, not debating the basic trajectory, but they are going to have to make some decisions about the shape of the reform. and even as recently as last spring despite the fact they were in the midst of a political transition, they were doing some new frontiers on the financial reform that i think were very encouraging. you have seen in the chinese exchange rate quite significantly the past few years and real term quite significantly and they have more work to do but that is a part of a commitment towards a market oriented economy. >> what about their attitude towards the relationship with us? is it clear what kind of relationship they want with us? >> i think they recognize how important it is for them to have a stable expanding global
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economy and how important it is to still enjoy access to the major markets on the relatively fair returns and it's because of that recognition that they are -- eight been willing to move on the range of things that are hard for us that important and i think that balance is going to hold going forward. >> a couple of questions. one is democrats -- would be you come keep citing the clinton era rates. why are the only relative -- relevant for income tax rates but not spending levels were spending has a rate of gdp? i will sign up for the clinton era income-tax rates if obama commits to the clinton era spending levels. >> you can't repeal the aging of the population, and it's worth recognizing that the demographic changes ahead of us that millions and millions of americans have become eligible for medicare and social security in the coming years is not something you could ignore, and part of governing is recognizing
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this basic realities in that context. now that is a good reason to focus very intently how to increase the rate of growth and in the expenditures across the country as a whole but that is one reason that it's different. but again, the level of spending projected in just the president's budget is one example is very modest spending outside entitlements relative to the share of gdp. even relative to clinton for example in the president's budget the level of spending for what's called the non-defense spending is part of the government outside defense and social security. those levels are very low as a share of the economy, so we think we have laid out a pretty sensible balance in this context which shows a very significant restraint where you need to show it but still recognizes that again we can't ignore the fact millions of americans are retiring. >> another question why should
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we believe the administration that has ballooned deficits so sharply well after winning the election so soundly attack the deficit with any vigor that isn't the track record. >> i think the people that say that miss the basic reality of what drives the deficits. it's true the deficits have gone up and for reasons that you all know. let's just review then they grow up significantly because of the costs of the bush tax cuts and the expansions on the spending that we inherited and in the recession very substantially the policies we put in place in the economic growth is good for the long-term deficit reduction policies for example in the recovery act are only 10% of the increasing deficit over this period of time so people increase the deficits are mistaken in the basic attribution.
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>> the concern that this administration is simply between business and is possible to meet. and people complain about regulation, about the president's rhetoric. you've heard the laundry list. what do you say to american ceos when they complain to you about that? >> i say tell me what policies you're concerned about and let's talk about. if you have a concern about the particular vigor the tory proposal when the financial system that you think miss design, tell me what that is and what would you replace it with and how would you do it? it's easier to have a debate on the substance. if you look on balance at with this set of policies that we pursued in the last three and a half years that have been dramatically effective not just putting out the financial
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players but laying the foundation for economic growth much more quickly than anybody thought and it's not been as strong as we would like at this period of time if they look at the basic fundamentals of business in this country in this period of time the rate of growth in investment, rate of growth in productivity, certain levels of profitability it's been a very good set of policies for the american private sector if you get in the country's experience in the financial crises i think we need that basic test. but if you are concerned about the basic shape of reform in the regulatory side you get to make your views heard on that context it's true the financial reforms are tough reforms and you would have it no other way. really? you want to leave this economy vulnerable? so things we've done even on the financial side have been very good for the long-term health of the financial system.
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>> anybody else have a question they want to pose? yes. >> how much more debt to continue to stimulate the economy? >> our deficits are about 7.5% of gdp. they are down dramatically from where they were when we came into office. and under the president's policy, they fall very rapidly over the next three years to the point where this is the key objective and by getting to the question which is you need to get the deficit down to the point that it stops rising as a share of the economy. to do that it has to be slightly below the 3% of gdp and that anchors everything that we proposed on the budget and it's the same basic objective that anchors the others before us today so it is the basic recognition how much is enough? you have to do enough to get it
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down to the point is stops growing as a share of the gdp and that means you have to have the deficit down to slightly below 3% of gdp. part of that happens just as the economy gradually recovers and heels because revenue goes up as you've seen them go up and the spending stuff that's automatic starts to recede. but you still have to find consensus on a set of reforms to provide about 2% of gdp and additional savings. and that's what this the date is granted be is to find consensus on roughly 2%. we think the best way to do this is roughly 1% of gdp on the revenue side with a balance on the spending side for the reasons i laid out. but that answers your question. you don't want to do that quickly because if you do it too precipitously you hurt the economy that isn't growing as
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rapidly as you like and given the pressure around the world in europe and elsewhere, you want to keep your focus stronger on the path. islamic why don't you wait for a mic and this will be the last question so me get a good one. >> it seems to me one of the themes that inhabited the first four years was the balance between economic priorities and other priorities. how much political capital energy was spent on health care and other things coming into the question is do you see that -- how do you strike that balance and do you see that changing as you go forward into the next four years? >> to complicate your questions about what the balance in the short term and the immediate and long-term things that matter for the strength of the economy and i think it's important to
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recognize that as we get to the next phase of the fiscal reform debate you have to think about this not just about how you bring them down gradually to the point they are sustainable you to think about it in terms of what can you do to improve the long-term growth in the american economy? there are things we have to do in infrastructure and education just to name to that are important to the potential of the country and are not very expensive. if we sacrifice those objectives in the interest of getting more fiscal restraint more quickly than is desirable would do damage across the country, so i would just encourage people to look at -- we want to look at things that are good for growth now and over the long run and that's why we need not just the fiscal reform ability that things that matter to the
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near-term strength as a whole and that is another place we want to get the balance right. our principal objectives of the economic side are going to have to be -- again what is good for the growth of the american economy and how to design a balanced set of reforms to sustain and that's not something you want to put off. can i say one more thing? i know there are people out there that say look, it's november 13th. the end of the year approaches. why don't you put off all the stuff to buy yourself some time and just extend everything? and i would discourage you from viewing that as an attractive alternative for dealing with this. you leave all of the uncertainty on the american economy and you have to ask yourself if you do that what incentives have you given anybody to negotiate? if you say again as we have had
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to do before because there was no alternative we are going to extend and deily what gives people the confidence to come to the table and negotiate? because they always believe if they hold out they can just extended again. do i know the cliff is unattractive it would cause damage to the american economy and it is avoidable. not that complicated to solve. but be careful about those that are due for and urged. let's just extend while we debate and negotiate and leave all of the uncertainty on the table but a different source of uncertainty which is what is going to give people the incentive to come back and do something tough. nice to see you all. thank you. [applause]
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>> senator caller and ted cruz had been selected to serve in the senatorial committee for the next congress, senator rob portman is what history of the wall street journal ceo council and talked about last week's election, tax policy and the future agenda of the republican party. we will show you as much of this as we can until the president starts at 1:30 eastern. >> we are very pleased and fortunate to have senator rob portman of ohio. he's a first term senator from ohio but before that he served
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seven terms i believe now before he was in part and by president bush. >> nicely to put it. >> for a couple of thankless jobs and putting the director of the trade representative. and of course most of you know that he served as the partner debate krepp leader for mitt romney in the recent campaign. and that was governor romney's finest moment in the campaign. the first debate thank you for being here. the title today is the future of the republican party. this assumes of course it has one. [laughter] let's start by talking about the election because you played a crucial role in ohio, and i want to give your sense we are now
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seeing reports that the campaign was very surprised by the outcome even right up to the evening of election day because they were showing something different than everybody else. is that true and really how surprised was the campaign? >> first was a very close election in ohio even if we want ohio it turns out that the electoral votes would have gone to president obama but we lost by two points in ohio. recall back in 2004 when john carey lost to george bush he would often say both publicly and to me on the floor of the senate and the people you could fit in the ohio stadium why would the president today. so it was a very narrow victory. i do think there were some
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reasons that were almost technical some as you understand there are folks here from silicon valley that are very good at social media and their turnout efforts were quite effective. if you look at the numbers after the fact, the turnout for democrats among the base was better than we expected and i would say even better than they expected based on their sampling. so they did a better job than we did in getting the voters to the poll. mitt romney got fewer than john mccain and still came within two points. the technology included the so-called system some of you have maybe read about in the last couple of days which was the republican get-out-the-vote technology to ensure people are getting to the polls. i'm told on election day it had so many hits around the country as it should have from people saying this person voted and this person didn't.
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but if that was under attack it closed down. so for those of you hear from again that technology field to enter some politics, we republicans want to talk to you. [laughter] we need some help. the democratic system was quite effective at micro targeting and i've heard lots of anecdotes and one this morning that you will love that somebody gets a call that's a democrat from law school and was we see that you voted and disinformation is publicly available. was it you that voted 2:00 on election day but your sister hasn't. can you call her. that's the level at that point. that led to a turnout effort that in the end makes the difference. the increase in turnout among
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the base democratic party is a two-point difference. i do think that as republicans we are not able to take our message which was the right message in the year the economy wasn't doing well and people were looking for change the had to to get to the level that people thought it would make a difference for themselves and for their families and this is something that folks in this room are either non-partisan or democrats or republicans but i hope you can agree there are certain things we should do that our growth oriented including tax reform and energy policy and other things in this campaign but i think we have a difficulty convincing people that were more independent voters this isn't a turnout issue this is dealing with independent voters in the middle enabled this would make a difference in their lives.
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>> on that point what was the failure because clearly that had to be one of the focuses of the campaign was to reach those people with that message. was that a function of misguided strategy or was that just a failure to articulate it by the right way and the candidate or the overall campaign? >> i think it's both. let me add the third element rate of course we were outspent and particularly not spent early on and there were not adequate reasons to address every issue is. some world to remain unaddressed and those came back to hurt in the end because in mechem jintao jul august we all spent 3-1. yes some super pacs temmins if you are watching tv in columbus ohio you were seeing a lot of negative ads. there were quite effective. they were about the auto
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industry bailout and policy proposals for mischaracterizing but they were pretty effective. so, we can't forget that it wasn't a level playing field until the end even after the convention when they were available to mitt romney which he needed to be able to try to respond we still were not on all of the markets in ohio and we were being held spent and said that as a cumulative affect. i chaired the effort in ohio but he would find the same thing is true in the other swing states. back to your question how do you take these policy issues and translate them i do think it is a huge challenge and i would suggest a lot of people in the room share the same challenge to the extent of getting partisanship that you believe and policies that lead to economic growth and jobs you will find it's tough to
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communicate. i'm a former trade representative and i use trade as an example i but suggest to many of you to depend on a global trade and in fact one of my partners talked about the revenue his company gets from global trade and most fortune 200 companies the revenues coming from overseas that many of the employees in the same businesses are fearful of trade and opening new markets and have been the trade agreements to deal with the more complicated issues in trade that's an example hell do you explain to people this matters and i will put my partisan hat on for a second and say even during this fiscal cliff if we are talking about raising taxes on folks who make over a certain amount you are bringing in a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs because it is a reality in the system and how you explain that to people. it may not affect many people in this room in terms of your
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business is but it does affect your business because your customers and vendors and the economy in general is something you can a lot about how do you explain that to folks in a way that the understand it does affect them and their families? a lot of discussion about the hispanic vote in the african-american vote i agree with a lot of that discussion but it's part of this larger issue how do you explain to folks when you get less than 8% of the vote less than half percent of the hispanic vote you get opportunity because -- >> that's one way of putting it. >> he would look at your market share because look a lot of people who are african-american or hispanic share of those beliefs i was just explaining in terms of economic growth who work for small business. there's a great opportunity to explain this in the way that is more accessible to people and more inclusive and so that is an
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opportunity that we were not successful in doing that in 2012. >> to pursue the minority question it's not only their share of the hispanic vote at the presidential that's fallen for three cycles in a row from 44 till president bush and 27 it's also share the asian vote from 42 in 2004 to 26 this time. what is it -- what's your diagnosis is immigration actually an issue, a threshold issue the party needs to change on for example or is it the size of government question where these folks are looking for the government to play a more active role? >> if you look at the exit polling i don't think it is the size of government issue. and i mentioned that earlier in the hispanic and african-american voters who care about small business and grow.
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they are looking for a constructive relationship with the government and i am not saying that they are anti-government but it's not that they're looking for the government to solve their problems. this is a sound country and people identified themselves. but i do think there was a translation problem here literally and figuratively probably by not having more spanish language advertisements and other ways to do not reach the hispanic community but just to say this is an inclusive party. these policy proposals we are talking about do affect you and your family. it's not about wall street is about me in st., nothing against wall street but it's a about our economy in general. so again there is a great opportunity here. in terms of the hispanic voters and probably this drop-off in the asian vote come immigration as part of it. that is a policy issue that needs to be addressed but it's just part of that tree is the mature convention was simply
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loaded with minority and women spokesman across the evening it was loaded with them. >> and not many people watch it. it to be honest people say that natural disaster played a pretty big role in this election, certainly the convention in tampa and then sandy. it's easy to measure the impact but among the voters that decided last night and in the last seven days barack obama actually won a majority which is a huge surprise to political scientists around the country who will tell you when you have an incumbent challenger the challenger picks up the majority of the last voters and the so-called undecided voters. in this case they broke for the incumbent and sandy probably had something to do with that. so i think it is a matter of policy. it's a matter of outreach that
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includes people speaking for the republican party and a matter of tone making people feel that this is not just an inclusive party, these policies are inclusive and the way to create more jobs and never can be for everybody is to have the policies that were enunciated in the plan that met on the lead out and we were not successful getting it to that level. >> do you think the comments by the senatorial candidates todd akin and richard more mattered in the polling that use all for the republicans brought the? >> yes. again, hard to measure but obviously the gender gap we have on our side which by the we persists. it's not something new this year. the final numbers i don't think are in but it would be comparable to 2008. we are not saying it's growing but it is a challenge we face as
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republicans and i think those comments exacerbate tariffs and its extraordinary when you think about it because in the previous cycles before the persistent 24/7 media for a senator like that wouldn't have echoed through. >> whatever stupid things i say to they can actually have an impact on what happens to read every gathering, every friend fund raiser, everything is subject to being repeated on the web and the controversy will comments spread like wild fire and that's something the candidates need to be aware of. in 2014 where republicans have another opportunity on the senate side because, let's see, 20 democrats up for reelection and i think ten republicans. we have another opportunity clearly just based on the numbers to try to obtain a majority to pass budgets and to the reconciliation to get tax reform done but we have to have candidates who don't just have
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the right policy positions but are aware of the fact that these kind of comments can determine not just their election affect the national scene and we saw that with regard to the misery comments. >> are you going to run for the senatorial campaign chair? >> tomorrow, right? >> i'm more focused on the policy side. i think the country is in trouble, and i know that there are a lot of smart people in this room that are perhaps closer than i am to how you're going to react to what we do in washington and certainly talk a lot about that during the conference, but i think the focus right now has to be dealing with this fiscal cliff and putting the competitive agenda in place and if we don't do that i believe that we will not be able to get the kind of economic recovery that we all hope for and that we have been lacking over the last few years. >> let me ask another question. i want to get to the agenda but
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address at least one more question about the campaign and the republican coalition and that is young people. a lot of discussion in the press the last week or so that you didn't make as many as you thought you would despite the fact a lot of them are living at home and there's not a great job market for them and the president still has about 60% of that vote. is this partly a cultural issue message? is gay marriage for example one of those threshold issues now that makes the republican party look out of touch with those voters? and you have to change that gave republicans talk about that issue? >> yeah. [laughter] >> that's a very big concession because a lot of the colleagues would disagree and say it was a close election, two percentage points.
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we don't need to change a thing. >> as i started off that is something we need to keep in mind putative retirement is one of the lawsuits it's the republican party, the democratic party and the country is divided and if you look at just the turnout issue it was almost a technical issue we can explain this in ohio and certainly florida and perhaps virginia. but the reality is a party that gets less than 8% of the vote was than 30% of the hispanic vote and less than 40% of the people coming up through the system is a party that needs to adjust. and i've talked about some of that today. some of it is policy, some of his tone and some of it is a message figuring out how to take what i think is our strength which is the position on the economy and growth and opportunity and translating that in a way that young people in this case understand and appreciate.
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looking at a 50% unemployment rate in matching your degree to the job you want you would think there would be a big issue. it's not $55,000 for every young person getting out of college and those issues are ones we were not able to communicate in a way that was effective and then some of the social issues are also important in the generation and look at the issues differently than our generation. i graduated almost the same year from the same institution and it's a different attitude now and you have to acknowledge that and deal with it. >> does the president of a mandate to raise taxes? i ask because you're the minority leader of the senate, mitch mcconnell told my colleague last week that he does not believe that is his mandate >> as you know i'm a fierce advocate for tax reform for all
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the reasons we talked about earlier with competitiveness in america is falling behind in our competitive position and one of the main reasons it is antiquated and inefficient and there are ways to fix it. every other country in the world among the developed countries have transformed, reform, lower the rates. we haven't touched it since ronald reagan in 1986. bill clinton did raise it at one point but we haven't done anything to touch the rate and reform -- tecum from 16.5% to 15% which most of you are aware of because you do business there, and this capital investment is going to follow countries that have a more competitive environment in taxes is one of them's a we have to reform the tax code and when you do that you will get more revenue. it's guaranteed. again, as i was talking at
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earlier there are opportunities here for us as a country and if you look at the congressional budget analysts this and go to the tax committee analysis what tax reform could mean in the economic growth and all of them will lead to more growth with this corporate tax reform. estimate of the president says what he did last friday, this was fought over in the campaign and we fought over rising tax rates. jay carney said they would veto any bill that extends the current tax rate so if he insists that tax rates go out for those making over to under $50,000 will would your recommendation before the conference in the senate? >> working in to white house is i believe a president does have a veto because i like the president's comments better than jay carney's comments.
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i think jay carney mabey was a little behind the curve on that because look, it makes no sense to take our existing and efficient code we've talked about and add the lawyers on top of it to create in this disincentive to invest and create jobs. i've got to tell you why would be very concerned about that to refine it deutsch advocate of tax reform. what does that mean? that means while you lower rates you do things in terms of the preferences in the code and this is deductions and in sections and it makes the code more competitive that allocates resources more efficiently. economists, right left or center looking right now would agree the current code is inefficient. it's a great opportunity and that is where we ought to be headed. for us to say instead what we are going to do is take this current code and put more taxes on top of it at a time when
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roughly 50% of that income is to be paid by an entity that is deciding am i going to add more people as the economy is beginning to show more light, am i going to make that investment and take that risk or am i going to pay more to local sam -- uncle sam? i grumet in a company like that and it makes no sense. i hope that because you this analysis this past week that talks about us losing 3 million jobs next year if we don't deal with the fiscal cliff, 3.4 million to be exact. i hope we look at the analysis from ernst & young to say one position on the rate is 700,000 jobs lost and say, you know, just as two years ago when the economy was stronger than it is now, the numbers were stronger than they are now this makes no sense what we want to do that. my own -- >> white house economists don't believe the numbers matter in the way you just said. >> they clearly matter. there's a debate about how much
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it matters compared to other things but if your goal was deficit reduction, which i loved and i may proponent of and opposed the balanced budget for the five-year budget i think it's important if you believe in that and you look at what this tax increase would do to the economy versus its impact on the deficit, it's kind of hard to argue. i'm not saying that we want end up with this discussion and this debate and who knows at the end of the year what happens but i'm very hopeful that we will look at this honestly and say look if you raise taxes on these small business entrepreneurs and a lot of folks in the room at the top rate, it is less than 10% of our deficit. so it doesn't close the gap much. less than 10%. when you hear people talk about it, keep that in mind. the difference in the surpluses and the deficits we ended up with over the last decade by the way when you heard people say that as the bush tax cuts of 2001 that caused the huge deficits, 4% that is the cbo
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numbers, not mine it costs 4%. even if you assume there is no economic growth and associate with that which i don't assume but let's assume you take that point of view so we need to deal with it honestly i think what we need to do is say o.k. let's to tax reform and set the date. i like six months. its aggressive, its ambitious. but i think july 4th is a nice day for us to do it. it's independence day. let's make a commitment now. we will have the current code in place for six months and we will have tax reform in the entitlement reform to deal with these issues we have to deal with and in the meantime let's make a down payment. the down payment should be spending cuts that deal with the sequestered at least in the six month period which isn't easy to do because they have to be done in the next fiscal year and not the ten years some people are talking about, but i would be in the neighborhood for 110 billion for six months and somewhere between 50 and a hundred. let's make the down payment now. let's have a six on period where
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the congress actually does its work, but stay in session in january. we normally don't. let's do this work through the normal process and let's come up with the tax reform that pretty much everyone agrees to in general, but the devil is in the details coming and entitlement reforms that have to be done to save this country if we don't deal with the entitlement problem we have nothing to do with our deficit, and let's put the congress on the spot. as some would say that is kicking the can down the road. some would say that it's kicking the can down the road in a way that is short. in my view the congress can do it if they put their mind to it, and the president needs to be brought into this. ..
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>> you said that america had the right cover. -- >> in terms of economics. [inaudible] >> when you ask the question, are you a liberal? are you a moderate or conservative? most americans are moderates and conservatives by four. a number of liberals, i don't know the last numbers were, it's about the mid '20s.
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>> it was no higher than it was produced on the question was asked. so people don't consider themselves to be liberal. they consider themselves to be moderates or conservatives. more importance when you ask people what do you think about the role of government, the size and scope of government. for all of the handwringing by some my colleagues on republican side, we've lost the country because so many people now want to be dependent on government, rather than the private sector to create opportunity, it's not true. yes when people are having hard times they would like to have some help, but they want a hand up not a handout. that's still very much the american ethic. people are willing to work, yes, they believe they're on to be a fair shake for hard work, but to get reward. my state is still a center-right state but if you ask people what they think, now again will not successful this last go around in providing the margin we needed to overcome again this
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turnout, disadvantage we had and the spending disadvantage we had to be able to get enough votes to understand the policies that mitt romney were laying out were precisely that. not a radical departure which is what the democrats successfully portrayed in their ads, but, in fact, having america be true to its historic values and principles that have made is, i would say, uniquely capable of creating opportunity and wealth in the largest middle-class the world has ever known through private sector job growth, and through relying on government not to create jobs but to create the environment for success. and that's where we were not able to -- i still believe this is a center-right country, despite the results of this election. >> yes, sir, right there. >> one comment i would like to get you to -- thank you -- to kind of comment back to me on. i agree, i think we are a center-right country. i truly do. i don't think perception is out
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there that the republican party is a center-right party. the perception is much further right than that. and the far right tends to scare people more than the far left. not that either one of them are good -- >> follow this event at c-span.org. we will take you live to the white house for president obama's news conference. >> please have a seat. i hear you have some questions for me. but let me just make a few remarks at the top and then i'll open it up. first of all of want to reiterate what i said on friday. right now, our economy is still recovering from a very deep and damaging crisis. so our top priority has to be jobs and growth. we've got to build on the progress that we have made. because this nation succeeds when we have a growing, thriving middle class. and that's the idea at the core of the planet that i talked
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about on the campaign trail over the last year. awarding manufactures and small businesses to create jobs here, not overseas, providing more americans the chance to earn the skills that businesses are looking for right now, keeping this country at the forefront of research, technology and clean energy, putting people back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges and our schools, and reducing our deficit, and a balanced and responsible way. now, on this last item, we face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on
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. >> the other option is to pass along right now that would prevent any tax hike whatsoever on the first $250,000 of everybody's income. and by the way, that means every american including the wealthiest americans get a tax cut. it means that 90% of all americans and 97% of all small businesses won't see their taxes go up a single dime. but then has already passed a law like this. democrats in the house are ready to pass a law like this. and i hope republicans in the house come on board, too. he should not hold middle-class hostage while we debate tax cuts for the wealthy. we should at least do what we agree on, and that's to keep middle-class taxes low. and offering everyone in to sign it right away so we can get folks some certainty before the holiday season. i won't pretend that they do everything else will be easy. but i'm confident we can do it and i know we have to.
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i know that's what the american people want us to do. that was a very clear message from the election last week, and that was a message of a letter i received over the weekend it came from a man in tennessee who began by writing that he didn't vote for me, which is okay. but what he said was even though he didn't give me his phone, he's giving his support to move this country forward. and he said the same to us republican representatives in washington. he said that he will back each of us, regardless of party, as long as we work together to make life better for all of us. he made it clear that if we don't make enough progress, he will be back in touch. so my hope, he wrote on is that we can make progress in light of personal and party principles, special interest groups, and years of business as usual. we've got to work together and for our differences aside.
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i couldn't say it better myself. that's precisely what i intend to do, and with that, let me it opened up for your question. and i'm going to start off with in power of hp. >> -- ben feller of ap. >> thank you, mr. president. can you assure the arrogant people that there had been no breaches of national security or classified information in the scandal involving generals petraeus and alan? and do you think you as commander-in-chief and the american people should have been told that the cia chief was under investigation for the election? >> well, i have no evidence at this point from what i've seen that classified information was disclosed that anyway would've had a negative impact on her national security. obviously, there's an ongoing investigation. i do want to comment on the specifics of the investigation.
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the fbi has its own protocols in terms of how they proceed. and i'm going to let director mueller and others examine those protocols, and make some statements to the public generally. i do want to emphasize what i said before. general petraeus had an extraordinary career. deserved this country with great distinction in iraq, in afghanistan, and as head of the cia. by his own assessment, he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as the director of cia with respect to this personal matter that he is now dealing with, with his family, and with his wife. and it's on that basis that he tendered his resignation, and it's on that basis that i accepted it. but i want to emphasize that from my perspective at least, he
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has provided this country and extraordinary service. we are safer because of the work that dave petraeus has done, and my main hope right now is that he and his family are able to move on, and that this instead of being -- this into a being a single side note on what has been otherwise been an extraordinary career. [inaudible] >> you know, again, i think you're going to have to talk to the fbi in terms of whether general protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation. and one of the challenges here is that we are not supposed to medal in criminal investigations, and that's been our practice. and i think that there are certain procedures that both the fbi followed or doj follow when they are involved in these
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investigations. that's traditionally been how we do things, in part because people are innocent until proven guilty, and we want to make sure we don't prejudge these kinds of situations. and so, my expectation is that they follow protocols that have already established. jeff. >> mr. president, on the fiscal cliff, two years ago, sir, you said you wouldn't extend the bush-era tax cuts, but at the end of the day you didn't. so respectfully, sir, why should the american people and the republicans believe that you won't cave again and this time? >> well, two years ago, the economy was in a different situation. we were still very much in the early parts of recovering from the worst economic crisis since the great depression. and ultimately we came together,
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not only to extend the bush tax cuts, but also a wide range of policies that we're going to be good for the economy at that point. unemployment insurance extensions, payroll tax extension, all of which made a difference and is part of the reason why what we see now is 32 consecutive months of job growth, and over five and half million jobs created in the unemployment rate coming down. but what i said at the time is what i meant, which use this was a one time proposition. and you know, what i've told leaders privately as well as publicly is that we cannot afford to extend the bush tax cuts for the wealthy. what we can do is make sure that middle-class taxes don't go up. and so, the most important step we can take right now, i think the foundation for u.s. helps
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the economy, create jobs, gives consumers a certainty which means gives businesses confidence, that they're going to consumers during the holiday season, is if we right away say 90% of americans are not going to see their taxes go up. 97% of small businesses are not going to see their taxes go up. if we get that in place we are actually removing half of the fiscal cliff. half of the danger to our economy is removed by that single step. and what we can then do a shape a process whereby we look at tax reform, which i'm very eager to do. i think we can simplify our tax system. i think we can make it more efficient. we can't eliminate loopholes and deductions that have a distorting effect on our economy. i believe that we have to, to continue to take a serious look at how we reform our entitlements.
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because health care costs continue to be the biggest driver of our deficits. so, there is a package to be shaped, and i'm confident that parties, folks of good will in both parties can make that happen. but what i'm not going to do is to extend bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% that we can't afford, and according to economists, will have the least positive impact on our economy. >> you said the wealthiest must pay more. would close loopholes instead of raising rates for them satisfy you? >> high think that there are loopholes that can be closed, and we should look at how we can make the process of deductions, the filing process the seizure, simpler. but when it comes -- easier, simpler. but when it comes to the top 2%, when i'm not going to do is
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extend further a tax cut for folks who don't need it, which would cost close to a trillion dollars, and it's very difficult to see how you make up that trillion dollars if we're serious about deficit reduction just by closing loopholes and deductions. and that tends not to work, and i think it's important to establish a basic principle that was debated extensively during the course of this campaign. i mean, this shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. if there was one thing that everybody understood was a big difference between myself and mr. romney, it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, i argued for a balanced responsible approach, in part of that included making sure that the wealthiest americans pay a little bit more. i think every voter out there understood that that was an important debate, and the majority of voters agreed with me. by the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue and voted
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for me. so we've got a clear majority of the american people who recognize that if we're going to be serious about deficit reduction, we've got to do in a balanced way. the only question now is, are we going to hold the middle-class hostage in order to go ahead and let that happen? or can we all step back and said, here's something we agree on, we don't want middle-class taxes to go up, let's go ahead and lock it in. that will be good for the economy. it will be good for consumers. it would be good for businesses. it takes the edge off the fiscal cliff, and let's also been commit ourselves to the broader package of deficit reduction that includes entitlement changes and it includes potential tax reform, as well as i'm willing to look at additional work that we can do on the discretionary spending side. so i want a big deal. i want a comprehensive do. i want to see if we can, you know, at least in the foreseeable future provide
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certainty for businesses and the american people so that we can focus on job growth so that we are also investing in the things that we need to but what i want to make sure is that the taxes on middle-class families don't go up, and there's a very easy way to do that. we could get that done by next week. >> thank you, mr. president. on immigration reform, the criticism in the past has been that you did not put forth legislation with specific ideas and send it up to the hill. this time around you said again that this will be one of the top priorities for his second term. will you then send legislation to the hill? and exactly what do you envision is broad immigration reform? does that include a legalization program? and also, what lessons, if any, did democrats learn from this last election and the latino
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vote? >> well, i think what was incredibly encouraging was to see a significant increase in latino turnout. it is the fastest growing group in the country, and you know, historically what you've seen is the latino vote, vote at lower rates than the broader population. and that's beginning to change. you are starting to see a sense of empowerment in civic participation that i think is going to be powerful and good for the country. and it is why i'm very confident that we get immigration reform done. before the election, i've given a couple interviews were predicted that latino vote was going to be strong, and that that would cause some reflection on the part of republicans about their position on immigration reform. i think we're starting to see that already. i think that's a positive sign. this is not historically been a
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partisan issue. with that president bush, john mccain and others who have supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past, so we need to seize the moment. and my expectation is that we get a bill introduced and would begin the process in congress very soon after my inauguration. and affect some conversations i think are already beginning to take place among senators and congressmen, and my staff about what would this look like. and when i say conference of immigration reform, it's very similar to the outlines of the previous efforts of competence of immigration reform. i think it should include a continuation of the strong borders secured the measures that we've taken because we had to secure our borders and they should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them. and i do think that there should be a pathway for legal status
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for those who are living in this country, are not engage in criminal activity, are here simply to work. it's important for them to pay taxes and it's important for them to learn english and its import them to potentially pay a fine. but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country i think is very important. obviously, making sure that we put into law what the first step we have taken administrative dean with the dream act it is very important as well. one thing that i'm very clear about is that young people are brought here through no fault of their own who have gone to school there, pledged allegiance to our flag and want to serve in our military, want to go to school and contribute your society, that they shouldn't be under the cloud of deportation. that we should give them every opportunity to earn their
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citizenship. and so there are other components to it, obviously. the business community continues to be concerned about getting enough high skilled workers, and i'm a believer that if you have a ph.d in physics or computer science, who wants to stay here and start a business or, we shouldn't make it harder for them to stay here. we should try to encourage them to contribute to this society. i think that in the agricultural sector odyssey has very specific in terms of making sure that they've got a workforce that helps deliver food to our tables. so there's going to be a bunch of components to it, but i think whatever process we have needs to make sure border security is strong, needs to do with employers effectively, needs to provide a pathway to the undocumented here, needs to do with the dream act kids. and i think that's something we can get done.
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>> chalkbot. >> mr. president, i want to follow up on a couple of questions. having to do with vince question -- i feel like to answer that one, completely. >> are you withholding judgment on whether you should have known sooner that there was a potential, that there was an investigation into what your cia director, potentially there was a national security breach with your cia director? do you believe you should have known sooner, or are you withholding judgment until the investigation is complete on the front? in a follow-up to jessica's question, tax rates. is there no deal at the end of the year if tax rates for the top 2% are not the clinton tax rates, period, no ifs, ands or buts, and even a negotiating on that specific aspect of the fiscal cliff? >> i am withholding judgment with respect to how the entire
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process surrounding general petraeus came up. you know, we don't have all the information yet, but i will want to stab a lot of conference generally and the fbi. and they've got a difficult job. and so, i'm going to wait and see to see, if there's any other -- [inaudible] >> well, i mean, chuck, what i will say is it is also possible that had we been told, then you would be sitting here asking a question about why we are interfering in a criminal investigation. so i think it's best right now for us to just see how this whole process unfolded. with respect to the tax rates, i just want to emphasize, i am open to new ideas. if the republican counterparts
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or some democrats have a great idea for us to raise revenue, maintain, make sure the middle class doesn't get hit, reduces our deficit, encourages growth, i'm not going to just slam the door on their face. i want to hear -- i want to hear ideas from everybody. [inaudible] >> well, look, i believe this is solvable. i think fair-minded people can come to an agreement that does not cause the economy to go back into recession, that protects middle-class families, that focuses on jobs and growth, and reduces our deficit. i'm confident it can be done. my budget, quickly, does it. i understand i don't expect the republicans have but to adopt my budget. that's not realistic, so i recognize that we're going to have to compromise. and as i said on election night, optimize is hard.
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-- compromise is hard. not everyone gets 100% they want and not everyone will be perfectly happy. but what i will not do is to have a process that is vague, that says we are going to sort of kind of raise revenue through dynamic scoring or closing loopholes that have not been identified. and the reason i wanted it is because i don't want to find ourselves in the position six months now or a year from now where, lo and behold, the only way to close the deficit is to sock it to middle-class families. or to burden families that have disabled kids, or you know, have a parent in a nursing home, or suddenly we've got to cut more out of our basic research budget that is the key to a growing the economy in the long term. so that's my concern.
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i'm less concerned about red lines per se. what i'm concerned about is not finding ourselves in a situation where the wealthy are not paying more, or are not paying as much as they should. middle-class families, one way or another, is making up the difference. that's the kind of status quo that has been going on here too long, and that's exactly what i argued against it during this campaign. and if there's one thing that i'm pretty confident about is the american people understood what they were getting when they gave me this incredible privilege of being in office for another four years. they want compromise. they want action. but they also want to make sure that middle-class folks aren't bearing be entitled to the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these challenges. they expect folks at the top are doing their fair share as well, and that's going to be my guiding principle during these
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negotiations, but more important during the next four years of my administration. nancy. >> mr. president, on election night you said that you were looking forward to speaking with governor romney, sitting down in the coming to discuss ways that you could work together on this nation's problems. have you extend the invitation? as he accepted? and in what ways do you think you can work together? >> we have not schedule something it. i think everybody forgets that the election was only a week ago, and i know i've forgotten. i forgot on wednesday. so i think everybody needs to catch their breath. i'm sure that governor romney is spending some time with his family. and my hope is before the end of the year ago that we have the chance to sit down and talk. you know, there's certain aspects of governor romney's record and his ideas that i
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think could be very helpful. and, well, to give you one example, i do think he did a terrific job running the olympics. and unicom that skill set up trying to figure out how do we make something work better applies to the federal government. there are a lot of ideas i don't think our partisan ideas. but are just smart ideas about how can we make the federal government more customer friendly, how can we make sure that we are consolidating programs that are duplicative. you know, how can we eliminate additional waste. he presented some ideas during the course of the campaign that i actually agree with. and so it would be interesting to talk to him about something like that. there may be ideas that he has with respect to jobs and growth that can help middle-class families that i want to hear.
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so, you know, i'm not either prejudging what he's interested in doing, nor am i suggesting i've got some specific assignment. but what i want to do is to get ideas from him in cf there some ways we can potentially work together. [inaudible] >> with congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we've heard over the past few years from members on both sides is that you haven't done enough to reach out and build relationships. are there concrete ways that you plan to approach a relationship with congress in the second term? >> look, i think there's no doubt that i can always do better. and so, i will, you know, examine ways that i can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody. so long as it's advancing the cause of strengthening our middle-class and improving our
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economy. you know, i got a lot of good relationships with folks both in the house and senate. i have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. it hasn't always manifested itself in the kind of agreements that i would like to see between democrats and republicans. and so i think all of us have responsibility to see if there are things we can improve on. and i don't exempt myself from meeting to do some self reflection and see if i can improve our working relationship. there are probably still going to be some very sharp differences, and as i said during the campaign are going to be times when there's fights, and i think those are fights that need to be had. but what i think the american people don't want to see is a focus on the next election instead of a focus on them. and i don't have another election. and you know, michelle and i were talking last night about,
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you know, what an incredible honor and privilege it is to be putting this position. and there are people all across this country, millions of folks who worked so hard to help us get elected, but there's also millions of people who may not have voted for us but are also counting on us. and we take that responsibility very serious we. i take that responsibility very seriously. and i hope and intend to be an even better president in the second term than it was in the first. jonathan. >> thank you, mr. president. senator john mccain and senator lindsey graham both said today they want to have watergate style hearings on the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi and said that if you nominate susan rice to be secretary of state they will do everything in their power to block her nomination as the sender granted, he simply
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doesn't trust ambassador rice at what she said about benghazi. i would like your reaction to that. and with those threats deter you from making a nomination like that? >> for salon not going to comment at this point on various nominations that i will put forward to fill up my cabinet for the second term but those are things that are still being discussed. but let me say specifically about susan rice. she has done exemplary work. she has represented the united states and our interests in the united nations with scale and professionalism and toughness and grace. -- with scale. as i said before, she made an appearance at the request of the white house in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to for.
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if senator mccain and senator graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. and i'm happy to have that discussion with them. but for them to go after the u.n. ambassador who had nothing to do with benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and besmirch her reputation is outrageous. and, you know, we are after an election now. i think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in benghazi, and i'm happy to cooperate in any ways that congress wants. we have provided every bit of information that we have and we will continue to provide information, and we've got a full blown investigation. and all the information will be
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be scorched to congress. i don't think there's any debate in this country that when you're four americans killed, that's a problem. we've got to get to the bottom of it. there needs to be accountability. we've got to bring those who carried it out to justice. they won't be any debate from me on that. when they go after the u.n. ambassador, apparently because they think she is an easy target, then they've got a problem with me. and should i choose, if i think that she would be the best person to serve america, in the capacity of the state department, then i will nominate her. that's not a determination i am making. ed henry. >> i want to take chuck's lead and ask a very small polyp, which is whether you feel you
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have a mandate, not just on taxes but on a range of issues because of your precisive victory. but based on what john as, you said if they want to come after me, come after me. i want to ask you about the four families of these americans killed. he said he believes his son basically call 911 for help and he didn't get a. i know you said you agree for the four americans that is being investigated, but the families have been waiting for more than two months. so i would like for you to address the families if you can. on 9/11 as commander-in-chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives? >> ed, i will address the families, after the press i will address the families directly, as i already have. and we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. that's what the investigation is for. but as i said repeatedly, if people don't think that we did
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everything we can to make sure that we save the lives of folks who i sent their, and who are carrying out missions on behalf of the united states, then you don't know how our defense department thinks or our state department things or our cia thinks. their number one priority is obviously to protect american lives. that's what our job is. now, ed, i will put forward every bit of information that we have. i can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders my national security team were, do whatever we need to do to make sure they are safe. and that's the same order i would give any time that i see americans are in danger, whether they are civilian or military. because that's our number one priority. with respect to the issues of
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mandate, i've got one mandate. i've got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get in the middle class. that's my mandate. that's what the american people said. they said, work really hard to help us. don't worry about the politics of it. don't worry about the party interests, don't worry about the special interests. just work really hard to see if you can help us get ahead. because we are working really hard out here and we're still struggling, a lot of us. that's my mandate. i don't presume that because i won an election that everybody is suddenly -- everyone suddenly agrees with me on everything. i more than play with all the literature about presidential overreach and second terms. we are very cautious about that. on the other hand, i didn't get reelected just to bask in the
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real election. i got elected to work on behalf of american families, small businesses all across the country who are still recovering from a really bad recession. but are hopeful about the future. and i am, too. the one thing that, you know, i said during the campaign that maybe sounds like a bunch of campaign rhetoric but now that the campaign is over i'm going to repeated and hopefully you guys will really believe me. when you travel around the country, you are inspired by the great and resilience and hard work and decency of the american people. and it just makes you want to work harder. you meet families who have overcome really tough odds odds. and somehow are making it and send the kids to college, and you meet young people who are doing incredible work in
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disadvantaged communities because they believe in, you know, the american ideal and that it should be available for everybody. and unique farmers who are helping each other during times of drought. you know, you need to businesses that kept their doors open during the recession even though the owner didn't have to take a salary. when you talk to these folks, you say to yourself, man, they deserve a better government than they have been getting. they deserve all of us here in washington to be thinking every single day, how can i make things a little better for them? which isn't to say that everything we do is going to be perfect or that there aren't just going to be some big, tough challenges, that we have to grapple with. but i do know the federal government can make a difference. we are seeing it right now on the jersey coast and in new york.
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people are still going through a really tough time. the response hasn't been perfect, but it's been aggressive, and strong and fast and robust, and a lot of people have been helped because of it. and that's a pretty good metaphor for how i want the federal government to operate general, and i'm going to do everything i can to make sure that it does. christi parsons. >> thank you, mr. president. and congratulations, by the way. >> you were there when i was running for state senate. >> that's right, i was. i've never seen you lives. i wasn't looking that one time. >> there you go. [laughter] >> one quick follow-up and then i want to ask you about iran. i just want to make sure i understood what you said. can you envision any scenario in which we do go off the fiscal cliff at the end of the year? and on iran, are you preparing a final diplomatic push year to
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resolve the nuclear program issue backs and are we headed toward one on one talks? >> well obviously we can all imagine a scenario where we go off the fiscal cliff. if, if despite the election, if despite the dangers of going over the fiscal cliff, and what that means for our economy, that there's too much stubbornness in congress, that we can't even agree on giving middle-class families a tax cut, then middle-class families are all going to end up having a big tax i. and is going be a pretty rude shock for them. and i suspect we will have a big impact on the holiday shopping season, which in turn will have an impact on business planning and hiring, and we can go back into a recession. it would be a bad thing but it is not necessary.
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so, i want to repeat, step number one that we can take in the next couple of weeks, provide certainty to middle-class families, 90% of families who make less than $250,000 a year, 97% small businesses, that their taxes will not go up a single time next year. give them that certainty right now. we can get that done. we can then set up a structure whereby we're getting with tax reform, closing deduction, closing loopholes, simplifying, dealing with entitlements. and i'm ready and willing to make commitments to make sure we are locking in that kind of deficit reductions that stabilize our deficit, start bringing it down, start bringing down our debt. i'm confident we can do it. and look, i've been living with this for a couple of years now. i know the math pretty well, and it really is passion is not
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calculus. there's some tough things that have to be done but there's a way of doing this that is not hurt middle-class families, that does not hurt our seniors, and doesn't hurt families with disabled kids, allows us to continue to invest in those things that make us grow, like basic research in education, helping young people afford going to college. as we've already heard from some republican commentators, a modest tax increase on the wealthy is not going to break their banks. they will still be wealthy. and it will not impinge on business investment. so, so we now had to do this. it's just a matter of whether or not we come together and go ahead and say, democrats and republicans, we are both going to hold hands and do what's right for the american people. and i hope that's what happens to with respect to iran, i, i've
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been much want to see a diplomatic resolution to the problem. i was very clear before the campaign, i was clear during the campaign, and i'm now clear after the campaign, we're not going to let iran get a nuclear weapon. but i think there is still a window of time for us to resolve this diplomatically. we've impose the toughest sanctions in history. it is having an impact on iran's economy. there should be a way in which they can enjoy peaceful nuclear power while still meeting their international obligations and providing clear assurances to the international community that they're not pursuing a nuclear weapon. and so yes, i will try to make a push in the coming months to see if we can open up a dialogue between, not just at us by the international committee to see if we can get this thing resolve. i can't promise that iran will walk through the door that they need to walk through, but that
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would be very much the preferable option. [inaudible] >> i won't talk about the details of negotiations, but i think it's fair to say that we want to get this resolved and we are not going to be constrained by diplomatic niceties or protocols if iran industries that want to resolve this, they will be in a position to resolve it. >> just prior to the election there was talk that talks might be -- >> that was not true, and it's not, it's not true as of today. okay? just going to knock through a couple others. mark. where is mark? there he is. right in front of me. >> thank you, mr. president. in his endorsement of view a few weeks ago, mayor bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. tomorrow, you're going up in new
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york city where you're going to, i soon, see people who are still suffering the effects of hurricane cindy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. what specifically do you plan to do in his second term to tackle the issue of climate change? and do you think the political will exist in washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of attacks on our been -- some kind of tax on carbon? >> decant attribute any particular weather event to climate change. what we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing. faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. we do know that the arctic ice cap is melting, faster than was rejected even five years ago. and we do know that there has been extraordinarily, there have
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been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in north america, but also around the globe. and i'm a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions. and as a consequence i think we have an obligation to future generations to do something about it. now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. that will have an impact. that will take a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. we doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. and we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our
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atmosphere. but we haven't had as much as we need to. so what i'm going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide range of conversation with scientists, engineers, him and elected officials to find out what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbons. and then, work on the education process that i think is necessary, a discussion, a conversation across the country about what realistically can we do long-term to make sure that this is not something we're passing on to future generations. this is going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with. i don't know what, what either
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democrats or republicans are prepared to do at this point, because you know, this is one of those issues is not just a partisan issue. it also affects regional differences. there's no doubt that for us to take on the climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices. and you know, understandably i think the american people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we are going to ignore jobs and growth, simply to address climate change, i think anybody is going to go for that. i won't go for that. if, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, i think that's something the american people would support.
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so, you know, you can expect that you will hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this agenda forward. [inaudible] >> that i'm pretty certain of. and look, we are still trying to debate whether we can make sure the middle-class families don't get a tax hike. let's see if we can resolve that. that should be easy. this one is hard. but it's important. because, you know, one of the things we don't always factor in our the costs involved in these natural disasters. we just put them off as something that is unconnected to her behavior right now, and i think based on the evidence we are seeing is that what we do now is going to have an impact and the cost down the road, if
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we don't do something about it. all right, last question. market. mark. >> thank you. mr. president, the assad regime is engaged in a brutal crackdown on its people. france's recognize the opposition coalition. what will it take for the united states to do the same? and is at any point at which the united states would consider arming the rebels? >> you know, i was one of the first leaders i think around the world to say assad had to go. in response to the incredible brutality that his government displayed in the face of what were initially peaceful protests. obviously the situation in syria has deteriorated since then. we have been extensively engage with the international community as well as regional powers to help the opposition. we have committed to hundreds of
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millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to help folks both inside of syria and outside of syria. we are constantly consulting with the opposition on how they can get organized so that they are not splintered and divided in the face of the onslaught from the assad regime. we are in very close contact with countries like turkey and jordan that immediately border syria and have an impact, and, obviously, israel, which is having already raised concerns as we do about, for example, movement of chemical weapons that might occur in such a chaotic atmosphere. and i could have an impact not just within syria, but on the region as a whole. i'm encouraged to see that the syrian opposition created an umbrella group that may have more cohesion than they've had in the past.
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we are going to be talking to them. my envoys are going to be traveling to various meetings that are going to be taking place with the international community and the opposition. we consider them a legitimate representative of the aspirations of the syrian people. we are not yet prepared to recognize them as some sort of government in exile, but we do think that it is a broad-based representative group. one of the questions that we're going to continue to press is to make sure that that opposition is committed to a democratic syria, an inclusive syria, a moderate syria. we have seen extremist elements put themselves into the opposition. and one of the things that we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures is that we are not
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indirectly putting arms and hands of folks who would do americans harm, or do israelis harm, or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security. so we are constantly probing and working on the issue. the more engaged we are, the more we will be in a position to make sure that, that we are encouraging the most moderate, lawful elements of the opposition that are committed to inclusion, observance of human rights and are working cooperatively with us over the long term. all right? thank you very much. [inaudible] >> that was a great question, but it would be a horrible precedent for me to answer your question just because you yelled it out. [laughter] so thank you very much.
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[inaudible] [inaudible conversations] >> president obama rapping at the 55 minute news conference. his first since winning reelection last tuesday. here on c-span2 with a couple minutes before the senate consent to take your reaction, your phone calls at (202) 585-3885 for democrats to republicans, (202) 585-3886, independence and others, (202) 585-3887. in particular asking about the fiscal cliff negotiations, what compromises should be made and will take as many calls as we can until the senate comes in and possibly check out a couple of tweets using the hash tag obama. met in tallahassee, florida, honor democrats line. make sure you're turned on your television or your feedback on this, go ahead.
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transferred hello? >> host: you are on the air. go ahead. >> caller: i'm calling on the democratic line transport i will put you on hold. make sure you meet your television. to our republican line, sandy is next in new mexico. >> callerare you there? we will try paul and boulder city nevada back your democrats line. paul, hello? >> caller: thank you for c-span. watching the president's comments, he's not going to take a hardline on whether the attacks which are going to go back to the clinton era. i don't understand why this president is not, i mean, as before, i hope we're not seeing a repeat, you know, the progressives and liberals really push him over the line along with labor. you know, he's got to take a stronger stance because the republicans, mitch mcconnell
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and cantor and boehner, they are not, you know, really acknowledging that the people have sent the message to them. that they want this president agenda, and they want them to work together. they are not acknowledging that. okay, i understand what he's trying to say to take your of the middle class first, but as far as i'm concerned, you know, 39.6%, you know, is more than reasonable. i think after they've had almost 12 years of tax breaks and 300% growth in the last 30 years in the upper 1%, i think they ought to be paying maybe 40%. >> host: paul's comments reflected in a tweet from roger simon from medical. the president saying i got one mandate, and mandate to help middle-class families and people trying to get ahead. let's go to rhode island. joe is on our independent's line. hi, joe. joe in rhode island, you're on
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the air. let's go back to republican line, north las vegas, thomas on our republican line. go ahead. >> caller: yeah, i don't, i voted for obama, but the african-american community voted straight obama. i don't think it's a mandate. if they split their vote, if obama had been white and they split their vote i don't think the democrat party would've gotten emended. >> host: what about the support the president received from white americans and other ethnic groups? >> caller: i understand apart and i agree with it. but 11% of the voting population votes one way, you split the vote even 70/30, he loses majority and the election. >> host: one of the questions was about been gaza, about susan rice being nominated as secretary of state. here's a tweet on the. if senator mccain wants to go after somebody, he should go after me. a few which we did that in in a response to that also from the
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news conference. earlier today we were wondering if president obama was going to pick a fight on susan rice, it appears we have an answer. a tweet from "huffington post" re-tweeting something from todd with pri. we'll see if we can get a couple more calls. but then it is about to come in and continue to debate on legislation dealing with hunting and phishing on federal lands. milton is honor democrats line. >> caller: hello. in regard to syria, i think our country needs to take a more hard-nosed stand, specifically i would favor a blockade of syria. >> host: how would that work? >> caller: it would keep outside arms from coming in and by way of see. >> host: do you think it would be effective? >> caller: even if it's three-fourths effective, it would be worthwhile drama that's
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milton in san diego. elizabeth, new jersey, an independent caller. >> caller: i just want to comment, i was so proud the way the president commented on the susan rice and really smack down center john mccain and lindsey graham. i hope he is going to keep that confrontational tone up throughout this tax fight. >> host: that was a news conference earlier today we covered a news conference with come with senators mccain, lindsey graham and kelly ayotte. they talked about the benghazi and also about the david petraeus situation. and in that news conference john mccain was asked about susan rice being nominated as the next secretary of state. and he said in particular quote we will do whatever is necessary to block the nomination that's within our powers, as for susan rice is concerned that some senator mccain. you can watch the in our video library at c-span.org. the u.s. senate about to coming. a couple more calls. a republican call her.
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>> caller: i would just like to know, not middle-class or how would i said? -- >> host: i will let you go to the senate is coming and momentary. nebraska is next. eagle, nebraska. paul on our democrat line. >> caller: i would just like to make a couple of comments. one is nobody seems to remember that when bush enacted those tax cuts for the rich, that the sale of luxury items went up 15%. immediately. so the rich did nothing with their tax cuts. >> host: thanks for your comments. we will not go there. things for all your comments aso well.mm we wihell take you live to the senate floor here at c-span2. rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable bernard sanders, a senator from the state of vermont, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore.
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the presiding officer: the joarl. mr. reid: i move to proceed to calendar number 419 s. , a the defense department authorization bill. the presiding officer: cloart motion. cloik motion to proceed to consideration of s. 3254, a bill to authorize appropriations for fleer 2013 for military activities of the dech defense and so and so forth and for other purposes. , mr. reid: the next hour will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees with the majority coalg controlling the first half and the republicans the second half. the filing deadline for first-degree amendments to the sportsman bill is 4:00 today. we're trying to work on an agreement with the republicans to vote on the sportsman bill and the cybersecurity and have a path forward on the defense authorization bill. we hope to have an agreement in
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the next couple of hours. mr. president, i rise today to honor my colleague chuck grassley on the occasion, the milestone of his 11,000th vote. he has cast more than 6,400 consecutive votes, more consecutive votes than any senator currently holding office in the senate. it's truly a remarkable accomplishment that speaks to his dedication. and i know he considers it a sign of respect for his stits and for the senate. senator grassley is a farmer, who served in yai state legislature, elected to the howps here in washington in 1947 -- and in the senate in 1980. he learned the value of hard work early on the family farm. today his son runs that farm but chuck still dedicates himself to working on the farm on many occasions. and then after that comes back to washington. as r&b of the judiciary committee and past chirm of the
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finance committee, he takes his ciewnl oversight responsibilities very serious. he has long worked to make the judicial branch more open and transparent. he spond a bill to allow cameras in the courtroom. he has been one of the most ardent protectors of whistle-blowers. he brings real-world experience from his iowa farm to be an advocate for farmers in washington. even when senator grassley and i don't agree on issues, i believe we always have the greatest respect for each other. i know do him and i feel confident he does of me. i believe he's a principled and dedicated lawmaker and really a genuine person. one little side note, mr. president. i came to the senate and i was elected in 1986. early in 1987 i gave my maiden speech here in the senate. and it was on the tears bill
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of -- taxpayers' bill of rights, something i tried to accomplish on the house, and they paid no attention to me. which came here, that was my speech and yfs way back there by -- i was way back there by the candy drawer and gave a teach on the taxpayers' bill of rights. presiding was david pryor from arkansas. he was the chair of the smee dealing with i.r.s. and finance. senator grassley was listening to my speech in his office. senator pryor sent me a note when i finished that he had written while he was presiding saying he really like your legislation. i want to work with you to get it pafd. i was stunned -- passed. he wf one of the senior next of the senate. the house wouldn't listen to me pivment tried to talk to the chairman of that smee, he wouldn't even do -- subcommittee. i remember his name. i'm not going to mention it on
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the floor but i remember it. senator grassley contacted me, said i want to work on this legislation. and they worked with me and my first year in the senate we passed the historic taxpayers' bill of rights to make the taxpayer a little more equal to the tax collector. it was landmark legislation. would never have happened but for senator grassley. i really admire what he's done for america in many different ways but certainly in that manner. i know that my friend, the republican leader is going to speak about senator grassley and i've explained to his staff i have to run to another meeting so i do have just a couple minutes' worth of stuff to say that i think is important. the work before us in these waning days of cong presents a test of really our character. that of this body. a test of our willingness to rise above partisanship for the good of this great nation. although i was disappointed the senate was unable to vote on final passage of senator
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tester's sportsman's passage i hold fast to my optimism that we can pass that. we have a great deal to accomplish to safeguard our country's financial health but we won't complete anything without bawrn cooperation. as -- bawrn cooperation. bipartnership means you work together to work it out. so i hope to see that type of cooperation on display when the senate votes today to reconsider stalled cybersecurity legislation. if we can work together to rest these two issues, it will set a tone of cooperation to characterize the remainder of this congress and the next congress as well. national security experts say there is no more important threat than cybersecurity. it could gas devastate our 30ur grid and our nuclear plants.
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a bipartisan group of sponsors has worked to craft legislation to do just that but plund filibustered this murt shall -- republicans filibustered this measure in july. national security experts have called it -- quote -- "the most serious challenge since the onset of the nuclear age 60 years ago." i found it niewrnlg encouraging when a number of my republican colleagues, mccain, hutch son, blunt, recently wrote president president obama obama advocating cybersecurity. they wrote an issue as far reaching requires formal approval by cong. only the legislative process can crate the durable and cooperative public-private partnership we need to enhance or cyber sciewsht sciewrpt. senator lieberman, ranking member clins have worked their their hearts out. they've compromised with these people and many others to have the bill before us.
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this group of senators i've just read off said they remain committed to the legislative process. today they'll have an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment. on several occasions, since the republicans filibustered the cybersecurity bill this summer i asked my colleagues to bring a list of amendments they'd like to debate. today they have another opportunity to do so. they can show their commitment to a legislative solution by advancing this worthy measure and moving forward with a productive debate on the issue. this is yet another opportunity for this congress to prove it can cooperate when it matters the most. it won't be our last opportunity. before the end of the year we must craft a balanced agreement to reduce the deaf and protect middle-class families from a tax hike, a cyber -- cyberterrorism represents a threat to our national security, the looming fiscal cliff represents it to our
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financial security. i'm heartened to see a number number of republicans have opened the door to a balanced agreement. bill kristol said it won't kill the country if we raise taxes on millionaires. irt really won't. glen hubbard an advisor to president bush conceded any agreement must include revenue increases. it's simple math. to to protect the middle class it will be necessary to ask millionaires and billionaires to contribute more. democrats understand we won't get everything we want from a bi partisan accord but republicans republicans should realize they won't get fertion they want either. and that -- as my esteemed predecessor said from working together to work it out, that's senator mitchell. thank you, mr. president. mr. mcconnell: ,mr. president?
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our grend from iowa -- good friend from iowa, senator grassley has cast his 11,000th vote. since the founding of the republic only 2,000 men and women have served in the senate. only 23 have cast more votes than chuck grassley. no other current senator has gone as long as he has without missing a sinl vote --, single vote, happened missed a vote in 19 years. this year senator grassley marks 54 years of public service to the people of the hawk eye state. while some members of cong have a tendency to lose touch with their stits, chuck grassley has always worked hard to make sure he never did that. he has made it his business to stay connected to the oaks fowlkes back home by holding at least one town hall meeting a year in all of iowa's 99 counties. and by responding to every
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letter, postcard, e-mail or phone call. and of course we're all familiar with his tweets, much like the senator himself, they're truly one of a kind. senator grassley also stays close to the land by working his family farm. he does that even while keeping up his duties here in washington. he may ab u.s. senator but he has always preferred to be known as a farmer from buttler county. this is -- visitors to the farm say it's not uncommon to see him pulling a cell phone out from under his baseball cap while riding on his tractor. over the years chuck grassley has distinguished himself by his tenacity and his commitment to the public interest. his first major legislative achievement was the passage of the federal false claims act. which over the years has saved taxpayers more than $17 billion. as chairman of the finance
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committee, he led bipartisan bills through cong that cut taxes by $2 trillion leaving more money in the pockets of hard-working americans. senator grassley has a lot to be proud of in his career. he and barbara are also rightly proud of their 58 years of marriage, their five children, and many, many grandchildren. he has been a farmer, a father, a government watchdog, a steward of the nation's finances, and in short, he's a real statesman. the senate would not be the same without him. and the nation, i firmly believe, would be a lot worse off without the remarkable service of senator chuck grassley. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont.
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a senator: i wanted to add my clietions. ?mplet the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: i listened to the speeches of the joarl and the republican leader. i add my congratulationses to my friend and longtime colleague senator senator grassley for reaching this milestone of 11,000 votes in the united states senate and for his long service to our state of iowa and to our nation. senator grassley and i were elected the same year, sworn in the same day in january of 1975, although he proceeded me to come to the senate by four years, but i can say without any fear of contradiction that senator grassley and i have had a wonderful working relationship. obviously anyone who knows our records knows we don't always agree on things all the time. that's the way things ought to be around here. we have good debates but we've always been friends. and the one thing i also know is that we've also worked together for the betterment of our state
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of iowa. i think politics tends to ends at that doorstep and when it comes to iowa and what's good for our state, we have always worked very closely, we've always had a great camaraderie. our staffs have worked together very closely over the years. and so again, i just want to commend the senior senator from the state of iowa. i now have the distinction of being the most senior junior senator in the united states senate. [laughter] it used to be fritz hollings for years. now i'm the most senior junior senator. and i couldn't ask for a -- a better colleague and a better friend on that side of the aisle and from the state of iowa than senator chuck grassley. and again, i just want to congratulate him on reaching this milestone. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i'm sorry i interrupted. i came off the floor. i didn't realize senator grassley being his huge
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self-effacing self is sitting there in the back row. the -- i've been here as a colleague in the senate during those 11,000 votes. i don't want to ruin his reputation back home but we have a -- a significant number of those votes where he and i voted the same way. and, of course, he and i sit together -- or sit side-by-side on the senate judiciary committee, and i -- i congratulate him. these are milestones worth being noted. he, senator grassley, has had far more friends than mine. so i congratulate him, his wife barbara was kind enough to introduce -- both to recommend my wife for a cancer awareness award and then to introduce her just before we recessed. and it's been that kind of a relationship.
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those of us who live in rural areas, as the distinguished presiding officer knows, we require certain bonds and so i applaud the senator from iowa. and, mr. president, on a -- i have another subject if i -- if i might. incidentally, what is the -- what -- what is the parliamentary situation? the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. under the previous order, the following hour will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the majority controlling the first half. mr. leahy: mr. president, i'll take from the majority side. i know -- we all know that congress is now back from an extended recess. when we left, there were a
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number of significant items pending on the -- either on the floor of the house or the floor of the senate. and yesterday i spoke about one major piece of legislation which we passed here in the senate by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote and that was the farm bill. it has, of course, implications to a state like vermont, but almost every state in this country, as everything from milk price supports to drought and disaster relief. as i said, it was a bipartisan vote, strongly supported by democrats and republicans alike. it's been stalled in the house and i hope now the election's over they can bring it up and pass it. but there's another urgently needed piece of legislation
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which we have passed here in the united states senate and it's time to pass it in the house. i know we have issues like disaster relief for the victims of hurricane sandy. we should do that. we have the fiscal cliff that threatens our economy. that's extremely important. we have confirmation votes on scores of judicial nominees. we have 19 of them pending on the floor. that's all important. all of these things can be done in the time remaining for us. but one of the important legislative priorities is the violence against women reauthorization act. the violence against women reauthorization act. i wrote that with republican senator mike crapo of idaho. this was and is a bipartisan piece of legislation. it won the support of all women senators in this body, republican and democratic alike.
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it passed by an overwhelming margin in this body. the distinguished presiding officer was a strong supporter of it. this senate-passed bill deserves to be on our short list of priorities for the rest of the year. i was pleased to see that the president and speaker boehner have indicated willingness to work toward a bipartisan solution to avoid the fiscal cliff, but on vawa, the violence against women act, the time for posturing has long passed. congress has failed to pass the bipartisan violence against women reauthorization act. it passed the senate with 68 votes, more thavotes more than . they ought to take it up and pass it in the house. i'm committed to ensuring that vawa addresses the changing needs of all victims. i stand ready, as i have from the start, to work with members
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from both parties. i look forward t to hearing from the republican leaders in the house and to seeing this important measure enacted. you know, both parties could have celebrated the passage of yet another bipartisan vawa reauthorization bill after the senate's convincing vote in april. today, more victims -- there have been a lot of victims since april. they could be receiving the critical protections included in the senate-passed vawa reauthorization bill. in the months since the senate passed the leahy-crapo bill, we've been reminded of the importance of vawa. in wisconsin -- i'll give you a couple examples. let me tell you -- you know, these are very grim stories, but let me tell you some grim stories about what's happened in wisconsin. a gunman opened fire at a milwaukee area spa. he wounded four people and he killed three people, including his wife.
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the republican governor in minnesota called for tougher domestic violence laws because the gunman had previously abused his estranged wife. the leahy-crapo bill would strengthen the ability of states and service providers to identify domestic violence cases that have a significant risk of homicide, take effective steps to protect potential victims. in another case, in amherst, massachusetts, an amherst college student was raped by a classmate. when she briefly stepped forward on the pages of her school newspaper to describe the lack of response from school administration to that crime, that young student -- and she's not alone, by any means -- along with countless others like her deserve attentive and respectful treatment in the wake of such a heinous act of sexual violence. and our bill would encourage
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such a response with new campus protections. but if we don't have congressional action, these and other new crucial protections in the leahy-crapo bill will not be able to help victims and prevent crimes nationwide. iand the recent events remind us that innocent lives are on the line when it comes to domestic and sexual violence. it's unacceptable to delay the these. mr. president, i was astounded to hear that some of the objections in the house was because we covered all women, all women in america. immigrants, gays, straight, whatever it might be, native americans.
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you know, mr. president, i still have nightmares of some of the crime scenes i went to as a young prosecutor in vermont 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning. i remember seeing the battered bodies of victims, battered and bloodied bodies of victims. i never remember a police officer there saying, "wait a minute, we have to find out whether this victim is gay or straight, whether this victim is an illegal immigrant or a native american. we have to determine that before we can decide whether we're going to do anything." the distinguished presiding officer was mayor of our queen city of burlington. he knows he never would have allowed any member of the police force in that city to pick and choose. none of us would. so let's face up to reality. let's say -- let's stop saying we can't pass this bipartisan bill because we got to limit it
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and we have to pick and choose who are victims. i've said it over and over ghosn on this floor, mr. president, a victim is a victim is a victim. so let's come together. let's send the bipartisan leahy-crapo bill to the president without further delay. let's stop the deaths and the beatings and the rapes that are occurring. how many of us could pick up an article in the paper and read of these things and not be shocked. but every one of us have it in our -- as members of congress the ability to do something to stop it. this is an easy bill to pass. it passed by a wide, strong, bipartisan effort here in the senate. let's just take it up, call a
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vote in the house on it. i've heard from enough republicans and democrats in the house of representatives if this bill came up for a vote, it would pass. i think it is slamming the door in the face of people who might be abused if we don't bring it up. i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. i withhold -- mr. president, i withhold that request for a quorum. i see the distinguished chair of the senate agriculture committee on the floor. as i mentioned just earlier a few minutes ago, and again yesterday, her leadership brought about one of the most sweeping, cost-saving, best five-year farm bills this body's passed. and i yield the floor.
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ms. stabenow: well, thank you. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. ms. stabenow: thank you, mr. president. and thank you to a former chair of the agriculture committee and very distinguished member who leads in so many areas, whether it's our dairy producers, whether it's organic farmers, whether it's the nutrition tit title. we wouldn't have the five-year farm bill that we passed in the united states senate without senator leahy's leadership. and so his words are very, very kind, but i'm very appreciative of all that he has done. i so much appreciate our senior senator from vermont coming to the floor and speaking out about the need to get a farm bill done. that's why i'm here today as well, to echo your words from yesterday and today. we need to get it done, as we all know. we -- we have seen 45 days since the farm bill expired and there's absolutely no reason
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whatsoever not to get this done. let me also before speaking more about that, though, thank our chairman from judiciary committee for his words about the violence against women act, because every victim of crime, every victim of domestic violence needs to be covered under this law. and i am very grateful for all that you have done to make sure that all victims are covered, and that's another bill that needs to get passed in the house of representatives. in talking about the farm bill, mr. president, i also want to say congratulations to another distinguished member of my committee, senator grassley, for his 11,000th vote which he cast last night. and i know that senator harkin was here on the floor as well speaking about that. two incredibly talented members of the agriculture committee. and i want to congratulate
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senator grassley, who's been a real champion and leader on the reforms that are in our bill, really some historic reforms in the bill, and he has led that effort. and i want to congratulate him as he has reached a very important milestone. you know, mr. president, farming is the riskiest business in the world, and this year it's even riskier. the and i believe because of what's happening on the climate change, it will be even more riskier in the future. and so it's incredibly important that we step up and get a farm bill that gives our farmers the tools that they need to manage their risks. in the spring we experienced late freezes that wiped out fruit crops in a number of states, including in michigan where our cherry growers were just about wiped out and currently have no access to crop insurance, although part of our farm bill is creating a path for them, and we're very pleased to be creating a path for them to
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have crop insurance. but it was devastating this spring. then we saw in the summer record-breaking droughts that left crops withering in the fields and in our bill as well we address issues of drought for livestock producers, which is incredibly important. and by the way, fully paid for in the savings of our bill. then we saw hurricane isaac flooded croplands and hurricane sandy has caused destruction like nothing we could have imagined. in a year when there were so many reminders of the need for risk management for our farmers, there is absolutely no excuse not to finish the job and get a farm bill done by the end of this year. and i'm optimistic that we're going to be able to do that. i hope my colleagues will remember how we came together in june to pass the bipartisan agriculture reform, food, and jobs act here in the senate.
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i want to thank my ranking member and colleague senator roberts for his leadership in this effort. we really did this together, woking across the -- working across the aisle, listening to all of the members of the senate. and, as you know, we eliminated 100 different programs and authorizations that didn't make sense anymore or were duplicating something else. we streamlined programs to make them work better for farmers and ranchers, and we saved taxpayer money and cut $23 billion in spending. and at this time when we are looking at coming up with a way to reduce the deficit and put us on a path for balancing the budget, i can't imagine why we wouldn't want to take the savings from our bipartisan farm bill and include that in this much-needed agreement that we need to come to by the end of the year. this was not only a bipartisan effort but, because it was
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deficit reduction, it's one of the few deficit-reduction reductions bill, if maybe the only one, that we actually have passed this year, and we need to make sure it gets all the way to the finish line. we can't afford to walk away from the reforms in this bill. we can't afford to walk away from our dairy farmers who are right now operating without any kind of safety net. the current policy doesn't work for them. so just extending that makes no sense. it's a disaster waiting to happen. we can't afford to walk away from our dairy farmers. we can't afford to walk away from livestock producers, who need the permanent disaster assistance we passed in the senate farm bill. and, by the way, it's in the house bill as well that came out of committee, which is also bipartisan. and we can't afford to walk away from the critical priorities in conservation of our land and air and water, energy, and not only
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biofuels, but the new jobs available in biobased manufacturing, which i'm seeing happening in michigan as well as all across the country. we can't afford to walk away from support for our specialty crop growers, our fruit and vegetable growers, which are so important for our families, for their health, and for the economic strength of our economy as well. forestry nutrition, which affects so many children and families and schools, we can't afford to walk away from important funding and policy reforms in each one of these areas. i would just need to get this -- we just need to get this dong. it is not rocket science. it is just a matter matter of t a priority and spending a little time and getting it done. voters want bipartisanship. they want us to just work together like we have done in
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the senate, both in the agriculture committee and on the floor, to be able to get a five-year farm bill. and they want us to simply get things done. the house of representatives has a chance now to follow our lead, to pass a bipartisan bill that we forms agriculture programs, that cuts the deficit, ends direct payments and other unnecessary subsidies, and gives farmers the risk management tools that they desperately need going forward. everywhere i go, i hear from farmers who say they need us to get this done. they get up early in the morning, they work hard all day, they come home late. when there's work to be done, they do it. they just have to do it. they don't put it off until another day for whatever excuse. they do what has to be done, and they expect us to do what has to be done.
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and now we're 45 days past the expiration of the last farm bill. we're looking at january and beyond when a series of changes will happen automatically unless we pass a new bill, and it will be very, very difficult on a number of fronts. wwe could seeday chaos in the markets and confusion from farmers as we revert back to what's called permanent law, which is a collection of policies from the depression era that are poorly suited to the way that agriculture is done today. again, it makes no sense. we can't let this happen. there is no excuse for not getting the bill done by the end of the year. we have done it in the senate when everyone said it was impossible. we put the votes together in just a couple of days with 73 amendments and went through and voted on every single one of
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them, and then we voted to pass the bill and got the job done. now it's time for our house colleagues to do the same. i'm looking forward to working with the leadership of the house agriculture committee. i have great confidence that we can sit down together and produce a final bill to bring back to the senate that will allow us to get this done before the end of the year. now is the time to do it, and i'm urging our house colleagues to put this on the top of their list. thank you, mr. president. mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders:man, mr. sanders: mr. president, i think the american people and members of congress are now -- now that the election is over, are paying a great deal of attention to the so-called fiscal cliff and to deficit reduction in general.
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and, as we discuss deficit reduction, which is clearly a major issue for our country, it is important for us to remember how we got to where we are today, and where we are today is approximately a trillion-dollar deficit and a $16 trillion national debt. and i hope that everyone does remember that back in january 2001, when bill clinton left office and george bush assumed the presidency, at that moment in history this country had a $236 billion surplus, and economists were projecting that that surplus would grow and grow and grow in the future. the reason, to a very significant degree, that we are where we are today in terms of the deficit has everything to do with the fact that we went to
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war in iraq and afghanistan, but we didn't pay for those wars, by, by thwhich, by the way, by e we take care of our last veteran, will cost us more than $3 trillion. when you don't pay for expensive washings you add to the deficit -- when you don't pay for expensive wars, you add to the deficit. and, mr. president, when you give up a huge amount in tax breaks, as we did under the bush administration, and a lot of those tax breaks went to the wealthiest people in this country -- when you give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and you don't offset them, you also add to the deficit. and when you pass a medicare part-d prescription drug program written by the insurance companies, more expensive than it should be, and you don't pay for that, you add to the deficit. and in the midst of this wall street-caused recession, one of the points that many people have
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not seen is that today at 15.2% revenue is the lowest that it has been as part of our g.d.p. in 60 years. when workers lose theirs jobs, businesses go under, less revenue comes into the federal government, adding to our deficit crisis. that, to a significant degree, is why we are where we are today. and when would you talk about deficit reduction and how we go forward, there's another realit that we have to address. and that is, mr. president, that the middle class of this country is disappearing. not only is unemployment in real terms close to 15%, but median family income in the last ten years has gone down by over $3,000. meanwhile, in the midst of all that, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth. you have the top 1% owning 42%
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of the wealth in america, while the bottom 60% own just 2.3%. in the last study that we have seen on income distribution between 2009 and 2010, 93% of all new income went to the top 1%, and the bottom 99% shared the remaining 7%. so you're seeing a disappearing middle class, people on top who are doing fantastically well and very high rates of poverty. now, i say all that as a prelude to suggest how we should go forward in terms of deficit reduction. and the main point that i would -- that i want to make is that it is absolutely wrong, it is immoral in my view, and it is bad economics to move forward on deficit reduction on the backs of the elderly, the children,
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the sick, and the poor. and what we as a congress have got to do is to make several points very clear. there are a number of folks out there talking about cutting social security. well, let's get the facts straight. social security has nothing to do with the deficit because it is independently funded by the payroll tax. and let me quote maybe an unlikely source on that issue, and that is, on october 7, 1984, president ronald reagan said, understanand i quote, "social sy has nothing to do with the deficit. social security is totally funded by the payroll tax ref levied on employee and employer. if you reduce the outgo of social security, that money would not go into to redos the deficit it would go into the social security trust fund. so social security has nothing
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to do with balancing a budget or erasing or lowering the deficit." end of quote, president ronald reagan october 7, 1984. i don't often agree with ronald reagan, but he is absolutely right. i am very pleased that just a few days ago majority leader harry reid said pretty much the same thing. don't mess with social security. it has nothing to do with deficit reduction. so i hope very much that the senate will agree that as we go forward on deficit reduction, social security should be off the table. now, many of us want to make sure that social security is solvent for the next 75 years. how did we do it? i have ideas. ears have different ideas. -- others have different ideas. but it is not part of deficit reduction. mr. president, in my view, in a time of great recession when so many people are hurting, we must not cut medicare, we must not cut medicaid.
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there are ways toss do deficit reduction -- there are ways to do deficit reduction which are fair. and let me suggest some of the ways that we should do t the president has been very clear. this is what he campaigned on -- that it makes no sense at all from an economic or moral perspective that we continue bush's tax breaks for the top 2% of people who are making $250,000 a year or more. if we end those tax breaks, that's $1 trillion going to deficit reduction. mr. president, right now one out of four profitable corporations in this country, including corporations that make billions of dollars a year, are paying nothing in taxes. some of them have actually gotten a rebate from the i.r.s. so before we talk about cutting medicare and medicaid or education, let's make sure that we have -- that we do away with the loopholes that large and profitable corporations are
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currently experiencing. one of the most particularly outrageous examples of tax avoidance that is taking place right now has to do with the tax havens that exist in the ka cayn islands, bermuda and other countries. there are estimates that we are losing over $100 billion a year because corporations and wealthy individuals instead of paying their tax taxes to this country are stashing their mean in tax have -- their money in tax havens in other conings. that is wrong and that's an issue that we must address. lasn we talk about deficit reduction, we've got to remember we have tripled defense spending since 1997. we now spend as much money on defense or almost as much as the rest of the world combined. no one disagrees there is enormous waste, bureaucracy, unnecessary weapons systems in the defense department that we can eliminate while we retain
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the strongest defense in the world. mr. president, let me just conclude by saying this, yes, we have got to go forward with deficit reduction. but, no, we cannot and must not do it on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. there are ways to do it that are fair, which ask those people who are doing phenomenally well to start paying their fair share of taxes. and that is the position that the senate should take. thank you very much, mr. president. and i would yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to address the senate as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: mr. president, i have a resolution at the desk and stk for its consideration -- and ask for its consideration. the presiding officer: the resolution will be received and appropriately referred. mr. mccain: thank you, mr. president. this resolution calls for an
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establishment of a select committee of the senate to make a thorough and complete investigation of the facts and circumstances surrounding, and the response of the united states government to the september 11, 2012, terrorist attacks against the united states consolate and personnel in benghazi, libya, and to make recommendations to prevent similar attacks in the future. i send that to the desk in behalf of myself, senator graham of south carolina, and senator ayotte of new hampshire. mr. president, before i go into the need for this select committee -- and there clearly is a need because there is a huge credibility gap amongst the american people because of the now going on eight weeks of contradictory reports, contradictory statements beginning with the president of the united states.
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the president of the united states, on the day of the -- on september 12, went to the rose garden and stated that he opposed terrorist attacks. and then that evening, as we found out after the election, with an interview with "60 minutes," the president stated -- and i will provide the quotes for the record -- quote -- "we don't know who is responsible for these attacks." so he went from condemning -- quote -- "terrorist attacks" to saying to mr. kroft of "60 minutes" that he didn't know who was responsible. and then in the days following in various venues, whether they be late-night talk shows or the united nations, the president went on to allege that this was a hideous video that triggered a spontaneous demonstration. not true. not true.
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the president of the united states did not tell the american people the truth about the attacks that took four brave americans' lives that went on for seven hours, for which we were totally unprepared. mr. president, four brave americans died. it has now been eight weeks. the american people have received nothing but contradictory statements from all levels of our government. one of the more salient events was five days after when clearly it had been identified as an al qaeda-affiliated terrorist attack. the united nations ambassador, at the direction of the white house, went on all sunday talk shows to allege that this was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, as did our secretary of state, as did most regrettably, the
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president of the united states. the american people deserve the facts. the american people need to know why was the security at the consolate so inadequate despite two previous attacks on that facility? an assassination attempt on the british ambassador. what did the president know? when did he know it? and what did he do about it? did the president's national security staff make him aware of these attacks? and if they did, why did he not take the lead? what actions, if any, were taken to respond to a classified cable sent from our embassy in libya to the state department on august 16, weeks before the september 11 attack, stating there were numerous armed groups in benghazi that posed a threat to american interests, that the consolate in benghazi could not survive a sustained attack like
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the one that occurred a month later at the hands of one of these militia groups? what actions if any did the secretary of state take to these repeated warnings. i saw him on july 2. he told me of his concerns then. the senator from south carolina and others wrote an article in the "wall street journal" talking about the need for security, the problems that the libyan government was having. obviously those were ignored. why were repeated requests for greater security in libya turned down by officials at the state department? on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in american history and after multiple attacks this year on our consolate in benghazi and other interests there, why were u.s. armed forces in the region not ready -- not ready -- and positioned to respond to what was clearly a forseeable
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emergency. the fight went on for seven he hours. why did senior administration officials seek to blame a spontaneous demonstration when there was no spontaneous demonstration, which they were seeing in real time? which the surveillance cameras within and without our consolate clearly indicated. why is it that anyone, including our ambassadors to the united nations, would believe that spontaneous demonstrations are composed of people with mortars, with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons? no one believes that. why did the president -- why did president obama insist that he label the events in benghazi an act of terrorism on september 12 when we know now -- i repeat -- we know now that in an interview with "60 minutes" on the same day he explicitly refused to
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characterize the attack in this way, and he then spent nearly two weeks putting the emphasis on a spontaneous protest to a hateful video, including in his address to the united nations on september 25? mr. president, we need a select committee. americans deserve to know. the families of those slain and murdered americans need to know. and why in the world the administration or our friends on the other side of the aisle or anyone would resist the appointment of a select committee, i do not know. we have to have a select committee. the people of the united states deserve it. and the families of those deserve it. they deserve answers. in eight weeks now, they have not gotten the answers. and the only credible way of getting those answers is with a select committee.
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i understand today that the president of the united states took some umbrage at statements that senator ayotte, senator graham and i have made concerning this issue. we believe whoever it is must be held responsible, i say to the president of the united states. most importantly, the president of the united states who is commander and chief, who so far, in my view, has not exercised those responsibilities and also not informed the american people of the facts. this president and this administration has either been guilty of colossal incompetence or engaged in a coverup, neither of which are acceptable to the american people. mr. president, if i feel -- if it appears that i feel strongly about this issue, i speak for the families, i believe, of those who were murdered. i speak as a friend of
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christopher stevens. i speak as a person who knows something about warfare. i speak something -- with some authority that this attack clearly could have been prevented if the facts on the ground had been clearly taken into consideration, including the ample warnings, including the warnings that have the sent on august 16 stating that the consolate could not resist successfully resist a concentrated attack by al qaeda-affiliated groups. that alone, that alone convinces me and i believe most americans when they find out, that the actions to prevent these murders were clearly insufficient if not totally incompetent. mr. president, i see the senator from south carolina is here to
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join me as well as the senator from new hampshire. and i yield -- mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to engage in colloquy with both the senator from south carolina and the senator from new hampshire. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: very briefly, then i'll -- mr. graham: very briefly. here's the request of the body. benghazi needs to be investigated. we need to find out what happened so it never happens again. you have four americans killed, the first ambassador killed in the line of duty in 33 years. that's worthy of our time. dianne feinstein is doing a very good job with saxby chambliss on the intel side. general petraeus must testify. i think secretary clinton must testify. here's the problem that i have with the approach we're taking. armed services needs to ask d.o.d. how could you not come to the aid of the consolate for almost eight hours on september september, of all days?
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the state department needs to be asked, why did you deny additional security requests that had been made for months? and could you not see this coming? and the c.i.a. needs to be asked a lot of questions also. a select committee, where you have members of intel, foreign relations and armed services, listening to all three agencies explain themselves i think is essential to get to the truth. i will not know what general petraeus says in the intel committee, and i won't get to ask him questions. there will be people in the intel committee that will not be able to ask secretary panetta, general ha*pl and others about the -- general hamm and others about the d.o.d. piece. the best thing for the senate to do, i think, is to have a bipartisan select committee where you combine the resources of all three of the committees who have jurisdiction over different pieces and create a professional approach to solving the problem. it will be run by our democratic
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colleagues because they're in charge of the body. it should be. there have been times in the past, iran-contra and other examples of where committees combine their resources to make sure that they full lip understand what was being said. if you stovepipe this and one committee goes one way and the other committee goes another way we're not going to get the complete picture of what happened in benghazi. that's what we're asking, is that the majority leader and minority leader create a select committee of the three kw-ts that have primary -- committees that have primary jurisdiction over each moving part so we can get to the bottom of this. here's why it's important. there are a lot of conspiracy theories going on on the internet. i'd like to be able to say that's not so because here's what we found. there's a lot of accusations being made against people i know and like. i'd like to say this accusation is unfounded. unfortunately if there is accountability to be had by somebody i like, i would say
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here's why we had to do it. it would help us all to go to the public and say we did this together. we did it in a professional, logical way, and here's the results of our work product so we can get benghazi behind us and move forward. until we do that, you're going to, i think, fail the american people. epbgt process -- i think the process we're engaging in today is going to lead to uncoordinated fact finding. pieces of the puzzle will never be put together because we're not talking or working together. i think you're going to let the families down. the process we're engaging in today will not get to the truth. mr. mccain: will the gentleman yield for a question? mr. graham: yes. mr. mccain: one of the most salient points of this whole scenario was five days after the attack when the ambassador to the united nations went on all sunday shows to allege that this was a spontaneous demonstration
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triggered by a hateful video. those talking points that the ambassador used didn't come from the c.i.a., is my opinion understanding. but it came from the white house. who in the white house, who? was it the president of the united states? was it one of his people? who was it that gave her talking points that indicated something for which there was no basis in fact, certainly not after five days. and did the president ask about this situation? did the president of the united states say wait a minute, is she going out there when -- right after on the program that i was on, "face the nation," the president of the libya national assembly came on right after and said this is an al qaeda attack, this is a terrorist attack. and then for days afterwards, the president of the united states goes out and including the united nations saying that this was a hateful video that
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triggered a flash mob. that none of this has a shred of credibility. and so we talk about the need for a select committee, when the house is responsible for these talking points, if they were, then that congress all the different oversight committees that we have in the united states senate. mr. graham: my response would be as follows. there is a news article coming somewhere from the state department saying the c.i.a. would be responsible for consulate security because this mostly was a c.i.a. operation. there is an article coming out of the c.i.a. corners, basically saying we responded very quickly and efficiently to the attack. here's my problem. if you don't have a select committee listening to all the stories, it's pretty hard to put the puzzle together. my response would be why did the people in the state department assigned to benghazi ask for
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support from the state department if this was, in fact, a c.i.a. responsibility? i want to hear the state department explain that. in a news article, you're trying to create the impression that we're a secondary player. well, that would be news to every state department official in libya because they were asking the state department for security. i'd like to challenge the c.i.a.'s narrative of what they did and how they did it, but i want to hear the complete story. the senator from new hampshire has been an attorney general prosecuting a case, and i would just like to get her input as to how efficient you think it would be for three committees to do their own investigations, never talk to each other in a coordinated fashion, have a stovepipe investigation versus a coordinated one body listening to everybody approach. a senator: i would answer the
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senator from north carolina that if we do not do a select committee and bring everyone together, what you envision is an incomplete story on each. ms. ayotte: first of all, we know that c.i.a. sources out out a timeline for the c.i.a. you have the state department talking about prior security requests and their view on it and emails that they sent on. and then you have the department of defense talking about putting out another timeline. where you are left is no investigation would be conducted in that way from your most basic incident to this, which is of course where four brave americans were murdered during what appears to be a terrorist attack. and so how are we then going to follow up to make sure that we get all the complete picture for the american people, to make sure that it doesn't happen again so that we can understand what went wrong and so that we can understand what lessons do we need to learn from this. but if each committee, the senate foreign relations deals with the state department piece and the senate armed services
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committee deals with the armed services piece, meaning why did the greatest military in the world, why weren't they in a position to respond when the attack occurred over seven hours, that's an important question that has to be answered in the military context, and then also thinking about the intelligence piece. the intelligence beforehand about the prior attacks, what was happening at the annex, what response, what information was provided also to the president in terms of the prior attacks so that he could be informed to make sure that the consulate was protected and why wasn't the consulate protected. if we conduct this separately, we will not have a full picture to the american people to make sure that we take the lessons learned and that this does not happen again. we saw that. that's why we had a post-9/11 commission is because many agencies were involved in wanting to get to the bottom of it. this is so important with four brave americans who have been killed, so many questions. more questions raised than answers right now.
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and most of all, we need to make sure that the complete picture of facts come forward. as the senator from south carolina said, many people have very different impressions about this, and there are a lot of conspiracy theories, so a full bipartisan committee that has full jurisdiction over every area of this to come up with a complete picture and recommendations makes sense and it is a way to go that we can -- we can answer these important questions to the american people and of course the families of those who lost their loved ones in benghazi. finally, i would say with respect to my colleague from arizona, senator mccain, today the president did say that with respect to susan -- ambassador susan rice on the sunday shows, that she did that on behalf of the white house. one of the questions that needs to be answered, within hours, there were emails that went to the white house from the state
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department that explained that a terrorist group ansar al-sharia was taking responsibility for this attack. so i think a question that needs to be answered is why then would the ambassador to the u.n. on behalf of the white house five days after the attacks even though this email went to the white house within hours, that a terrorist group is taking responsibility, go on every major news station and say that this was a spontaneous reaction to a video. and she expressly says this was not a preplanned or premeditated attack. why was that done? i think those are important questions that need to be addressed by this committee as well because clearly this was not what happened. it was a misstatement of what occurred. we need to understand why that was done, and the american people deserve answers on this when you have four brave americans who were murdered by a terrorist attack. mr. mccain: i only have one
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additional comment, and that is i understand that the president's press conference today, that he said not to -- quote -- pick on his ambassador to the united nations, to -- quote -- pick on him. that statement is really remarkable in that if the president thinks that we are picking on people, he really does not have any idea of how serious this issue is. i'm a united states senator. the senator from new hampshire is. we have our obligations. we have our duties, representing the people that sent us here. we're not picking on anybody. and i doubt if the families of these brave americans who were murdered would believe that we are -- quote -- "picking on anyone, that when we are trying to find out the facts, the
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american people deserve to know the facts. we can't ever let this happen again. we can't let a security situation evolve that our lives are in change. we can't ignore recommendations. we can't not have sufficient military available on a september 11 where we know the tensions are incredibly high. the american people owe -- are owed an explanation, and it's our duty to try to get that explanation for them. and if someone carried a message to the american people that was totally and utterly false with no basis in fact, then that person also has to be held accountable as well. but first and foremost, the president of the united states, the commander in chief, is the most responsible, and i hope the president has no illusions about our view of his responsibility, which i believe are those of the american people as well.
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so we need the select committee. there is no credibility left because of all the conflicting stories that have come out and the different rumors and different statements and contradictory statements and finger pointing. the american people deserve answers. not only because of those who were murdered but to make sure that a tragedy like this never happens again. and i repeat, everybody has their responsibilities. we have ours. the president has his. we intend to pursue this until the american people have the answers that they deserve and they have confidence that these kinds of mistakes will never be repeated. we take that very seriously. we have some disagreement when it's called -- quote -- "picking on someone. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island.
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mr. whitehouse: mr. president, i have ask unanimous consent request for a committee to meet during today's session of the senate. it has the approval of the majority and minority leaders, so i ask unanimous consent that this request be agreed to and that the request be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, let me also ask unanimous consent that a fellow from my office, mr. todd bianco, be granted floor privileges for the remainder of this congress. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. whitehouse: thank you. plt mr. president, -- mr. president, as the senate reconvenes this week here in washington, many states are still working to clean up the wreckage left behind by hurricane sandy, the largest atlantic hurricane on record, and the states are already making new preparations to protect against future extreme weather events. hurricane sandy will be remembered both for the large area it affected and for the devastation wrought by its fierce winds and massive storm surge. more than 100 lives lost.
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8.5 million homes and businesses without power. $20 billion in property damage. and possibly another $30 billion in lost business. hurricane sandy was no doubt an extreme weather event. she is likely to be the second costliest atlantic storm in u.s. history at more than $50 billion. sandy slammed into the east coast, causing destruction from the mid-atlantic up through new england. the states of new jersey and new york were hit especially hard, and our thoughts and prayers and our promises of prompt and meaningful support go out to all of those affected across the region. in my home state of rhode island, moderate to major flooding occurred along the entire southern coastline with some areas experiencing severe erosion and destruction. houses were swept off their foundations in our southern coast communities like matunik,
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shown in this photo here. there is our former colleague in the senate, our now-governor chaffee inspecting the interior of a house whose front has been washed off and the neighboring cottage is in the ocean. other small cottages have been destroyed by the ocean in that location. beaches and dunes were driven down by the waves and wind and thick sand and stone deposits covered up roads, as was the case in atlantic avenue, and this is just being dug out here in this photograph. nearly 30% of rhode island's residents were directly affected by this storm. president obama granted governor chafee's request for a federal disaster declaration in four of ourte's five counties. more than 130 rhode islanders lost power, and eight cities and
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towns were forced to implement evacuations. the whole state will be affected by the as of yet unknown millions in damage and lost business. but rhode island is resilient. some businesses hit hard by sandy and the subsequent nor'easter have already reopened. others are working hard to reopen soon. here we can see the atlantic avenue from the sky, and the owners of paddy's beach restaurant here as well as their neighbors all along the beach are determined to reopen for the summer tourist season. i remember walking through this little notch here with the owners of paddy's and looking at this scene of devastation beside and the owner saying that's not so bad. we can rebuild. we'll be back on our feet in no time. and they already had friends and volunteers on site with hammers and shovels and saws cleaning up and getting things put right.
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the ocean state of rhode island has a special relationship with the seas. that special relationship requires that we accept challenges presented by extreme ocean weather. it's part of our day-to-day life on the coast, to be a part of that proud and rewarding tradition. but many of us recognize that this tradition, as president obama reminded us on election night, is to quote the president threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. now, it's difficult to say whether or not extreme weather such as hurricane sandy was specifically caused by climate change, but we do know that a warming planet increases both the severity and the likelihood of these storms, that it to use one analogy loads the dice for extreme weather. the atmosphere and oceans are
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getting warmer, we know that. as oceans get warmer, storm systems like sandy gather more moisture and energy from them and grow stronger. john t. focello and kevin trendberth of the center for atmospheric research in boulder, colorado, estimate that when hurricane sandy struck, ocean temperatures along the east coast were nearly five degrees above normal, in part attributed to global warming. warmer oceans expand. we know that, too. this explanation along with melting glaciers and snow pack has resulted in measurable and continuing rise of sea levels along our coasts. and, of course, as sea levels rise, tides and waves and storms and storm surges reach farther inland. sandy caused a whopping storm surge. that's the column of water that is formed by the winds and the pressure system of a major system.
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that surge peaked at about five and a half feet in newport, rhode island, less than the 9 1/2 in lower manhattan but still significant. at the newport tide gauge, mean sea level is up 10 inches. mean sea level is up ten inches from our devastating hurricane of 1938 and this extra ten inches of sea level increased sandy's storm surge but at least that amount and experts predict sea level rise will continue up to three to five feet more in rhode island by the end of the century. if we do not recognize the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare our infrastructure for climate change, future superstorms will be even more damaging than hurricane sandy. hurricane sandy was in some respects a preview of coming
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attractions. by 2100, the ocean will sit higher, be warmer, and feed more moisture and heat into storms. in addition, the oceans will be far more acidic but that's for another speech. tomorrow our committee on environment and public works, which the presiding officer serves on with such distinction, will hold a legislative hearing on the water resources development act. i appreciate very much chairman boxer's response to storms like sandy and the foresight she had to include a post-disaster program in the draft that will help states like mine recover from extreme exreem events such as hurricane sandy. also included is the northeast coastal restoration program aimed at building the natural and manmade barriers and wufers bufers from that protect our lives, our infrastructure and
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our natural resources from storms like sandy. when average temperatures rise you can also expect daily temperature records to be broken. and when average sea level rises, you can also expect an increase in peak coastal flooding. in fact, we have seen thousands of daily temperature records broken and costly coastal flooding, and the pain and damage caused by these extreme events has inevitably turned the nation's he attention to climate change. that is why a growing chorus of choices is convinced and concerned about climate change. a university of texas poll asked respondents in march and again in july of this year if they thought the global climate change was occurring. it's interesting, the percentage of democrats convinced of climate change went from 83% in march up to 87% amid the high heat and drought of the
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summer of 2012. among independents, the percentage rose from 60% in march to 72% in july as news of the unusual weather spread around the country. and even among republicans, the number of believers who acknowledged that climate change was real went from 45% to 53%. the party whose hallmark in congress is denial of climate change, who put forward the view that climate change is a hoax, now actually has a majority of voters that recognize its reality. so this chamber is getting further and further apart from the reality of the public, even from the reality of the republican public.
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in the aftermath of hurricane sandy, mayor bloomberg of new york wrote this: "our climate changing and while the increase of weather we've experienced may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be given the devastation it is wreaking has been enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action." the only place where denial still prevails is here in congress where polluter money has such influence. but polluting money can't change the facts. a study recently published in "science" shows greenhouse gases captured in air bubbles stretching back 650,000 years showed that the level of carbon dioxide is 27 times higher than any other point in that time. this year an arctic monitor has registered atmospheric cons
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straitions of carbon dioxide at 400 parts per million for the first time. the first time ever that a carbon dioxide sensor has hit this ominous milestone. for 800,000 years, 8,000 centuries, we've been in a range of 170 to 300 parts per million of carbon in our atmosphere and now we're starting to see measures of 400. we are in unprecedented and unchartered certificate. we know that we'll -- territory. we know we will need to adapt our coastal infrastructure to keep communities safe and prosperous in this climate. we'll be relocating roads and bridges, protecting water and wastewater infrastructure, revising our flood maps and our emergency planning. the senate needs to do its part to ready us for adaptation in the face of a changing climate. we can address these issues in legislation like this bill and
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the defense reauthorization, even in the budget debate but, mr. president, the overwhelming majority of scientists are convinced that our climate is changing. and all the evidence shows that they are right. indeed, the evidence shows that it appears to be their worst-case scenarios that are the correct ones. we must be willing to take the necessary action to prepare both for the new normal that climate change is bringing and for the new extremes that climate change portends. i thank the presiding officer and i yield the floor to my distinguished colleague from georgia. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. mr. isakson: i thank the distinguished senator from rhode island for his hard work and appreciate the recognition and i rise to talk for a minute about this lame-duck session. we're in the second day of a
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lame dick session following the elections of a week and a half ago. we face an impending fiscal cliff, a day of calling, a day of reckoning. and i think i have an obligation as dwun member of the senate and i think everybody has the same obligation to come to this floor and talk about solutions and resolutions, not problems and what we can and can't do. we are in a very dangerous position and i've been in this body one other time when we faced a fiscal cliff. it was in september of 2008 and i will never forget it. the markets had been collapsing, the subprime securities collapsing, the world was in difficult difficult financial times, the president of the united states at that time a republican brought forward a plan to solve that problem or at least forestall the collapse of the markets and give us a chance to come back over time. the house of representatives rejected it and then that day the markets went down over 800 points in one day. two days later the senate came back and adopted a plan to move us forward. markets stabilize but they were at the bottom. they'd fallen by 50%.
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here we are almost five years later recovering from the drop of the market at that particular period of time. if we don't address the fiscal cliff, and take the first step in this lame-duck session, to move forward in terms of sanity on taxation, sanity on spending, and sanity on entitlements, then we're going to put ourselves in the same position again. you know, i happen to think one of the best lines in president obama's speeches in his first campaign and he reiterated in the last one was when he talked about we're not a country not of the red states of america or the blue states of america but the united states of america. my predecessor, glefl miller, former governor of georgia, said you don't find most georgians on the very far right or very far left. you find them in wal-mart. they want a fair deal and a fair price and a good deal and want to be treated right. the american people want to be treated right. they don't want to see their taxes go up tend of this year. they don't want congress to turn back on cutting spending where
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it can and they want to fix nimedz so fair fixed in the long run. we've are this close to being able to find common ground if we take the first step by sitting down at the table. in the last two weeks i've heard the fort first step from both ss of the democratic and republican party. john boehner a week ago acknowledged that revenues could be a part of the solution. he acknowledged he wanted to do it through tax reform. president obama has reiterated as did he today in his press conference he wanted to raise rates on the upper income. but when pointed to and asked by a reporter, mr. president, does that mean there is no line this the sand, has to be that, that increase or nothing at all? the president refused to take the bait. he said i'll sit at the table. i'm seek common ground but it's got to be meaningful common ground, meaningful recommendations, plans that really deal with our fiscal cliff, with our spending, deal with our entitlements and deal with our taxes. so let me just for a second if i can opine on what really all of
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us know. presidents a three-part problem, our debt and deficit. it is spending, it is revenue, and it is entitlements. and it's not that we don't know what the answers are or the solutions are. they're all on the table. they've been visited by the gang of six, visited by simpson-bowles, by a lot of the brilliant people in this chamber, senator conrad from new york who, unfortunately, is leaving us has talked about it, senator coburn from oklahoma. why don't we put them on the table, sit down around the fable and figure out a formula for success to keep us from going on the fiscal cliff. because is one thing to -- it is one thing to gain the confidence of the world's body politic. it's another thing to lose it. if you lose that confidence wand you ever go off that cliff and people no longer think this is the greatest place to invest their money, then america has the a harder struggle to come back thean it would by facing our problems now. for a brief couple of minutes i want to talk about those things that can be done.
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first in terms of spending. we can cut discretionary spending but we all know discretionary spending and our deficit are about equal and have been the last five years. which means if you cut out all -- out 0 out all and cancel the government for a year all you're doing is balancing the budget. you're not saving money. we know we can't do it totally by cutting spending but we know we should which means we should bring appropriations bills to the floor. we should debate them on the floor, hold our agencies accountable and do what gene shaheen and i have -- jeanne shaheen, and we can find savings and we can find revenue to reduce our deficit. but that won't do all of it. and entitlements, we've got to look at entitlements. but that doesn't mean you take away neighbor nib's social security or medicare. i don't consider them entitlements in tiers the the first place. you've paid 1.35% of your income every day of your working life and you deserve to get it.
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you've 35eud 6.2% for your payroll deduction for social security and you deserve it. but we know those programs were started in 1968 and in the 1930's and eligibility should be reformed. we should find a way to make jilt be sound, just as they did in 1983 when ronald reagan and tip o'neill raised the jilt for -- jilt sore eligibility. i had to wait until 66. did i miss it? i didn't think i'd life lif that long. but when i did get there i appreciated the fact they saved social security for me in 1983. we need to save it for our children around grandchildren today and we can do it by looking at eligibility. you don't have to raise the tax or lower the benefit. you might means test the cola but you can fix it if we sit around the table and 25ubg about it and not take away anybody's eligibility. medicare is tougher. we can take plans by paul ryan and give people options. whatever we do we can find a way
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for the future, find to save the medicare the american people have paid for. prvment in terms of the safety net, nobody wants to do away with the safety net but it's time we looked at the safety net and the cost benefit analysis. so we manage them appropriately like you would any expenditure of government. then you go to the tax code and that's where we are today. that's the sumbling block, and time is running out. and i'll be the first person to admit it would be hard to come up with a comprehensive reform in seven weeks to fix the tax code. but it would not be hard to come up with a comprehensive agreement this month now in this session to do it early next year. and push off putting us off the fiscal cliff, get a new speed dump, give us time to find common ground. maybe it's means testing deductions. which raises revenues without raising rates. in fact, there's a great argument and the argument comes from 1986 when reagan and o'neill again lowered the top
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rate from 78% to 28% and raised revenues in the same taxable year. all because we raised the base upon which the levy was charged which raised more revenue which in the end is the name of the game. my main point, mr. president, is this: we should not be sitting around twiddling our thumbs. the block klochkoff is running. we face a fiscal cliff. there are some in this chamber who said we need to go off of it, we'll pay the price and finally sit down and do what's right. i would with all due respect say that's pretty stupid. we've gone off a cliff one before in 1998 and we're still reeling from it today because we didn't deal fast enough with the decisions we had to make as a congress to address the problems of the people that elected us to come here and manage their afaimpletz affairs. i would submit to you it's about time the american government did what every american family has had to do in the last five years -- sit around our kitchen table like they've sat around theirs, talk about our income like they've talked about theirs, cut their budgets and spending where they've had to cut because they've had to
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tighten their belt. don't you think the government ought to at least ask of itself what it's required every american family to do? so instead of talking about what we can't find agreement on, why don't we start talking about what we can find agreement on? we don't have to just penalize one taxable class of americans and declare a political victory but not solve or problem any more than we have some obfuscation in terps of fax reform -- terms of tax reform that is really now you see it, now you don't. we can do meaningful reform that accomplishes the raising of revenues and more equity in the tax code, we can cut discretionary spending where appropriate, and we can reform our entitlements. and over time, we can get our fiscal house in order. the great thing about our problem is it's not a problem that has to be solved in one fell swoop. but we have to make a commitment to begin to reduce deficits and, in turn, eliminate them so we reduce debt. we need a game plan over the next decade that causes us to do that. and when we do, we'll return to the greatness america has always known. but if we don't, we'll not be a good place to invest our people's money, our rates will go up on our debt service and
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america will have a hard time returning to the preeminence it has known. so my message today is this. the president in his press conference said all issues were open on the table. john boehner in his leadership remarks said the same thing in terms of revenues a week ago. let's get down at that table, let's start talking about those solutions, let's start giving ourselves meaningful goals and not just use the threat of destroying our economy and the investment in our country as a threat to cause us to do nothing. let's do something. let's do the people's business. let's face the music and make it a symphony. mr. president, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois is recognized. mr. durbin: i ask consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that at 4:30 p.m., the motion to reconsider the motion by which cloture was not invoked on s. 3414, the cybersecurity act of 2012, be agreed to, that the motion to reconsider be agreed to and there are 60 minutes. of debate tbiet leaders or their designees, that upon the use or yielding back of time, the senate proceed to the cloture vote on s. 3414 upon
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reconsideration. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: madam president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado is recognized. a senator: madam president, i'd ask unanimous consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. a senatormr. udall: madam presii want to welcome my colleagues back to what i hope will be a highly productive lame-duck congress. we have tremendous challenges facing our country but i believe we can come together and accomplish the tasks before us, hopefully in a truly bipartisan way. and as the presiding officer knows, one of the issue as that i've been really concerned about for some time now is the production tax credit for wind energy which is known by as acronym, the p.t.c. and i just want to acknowledge the presiding officer's state, minnesota, has an enormous presence in the wind energy industry. and i've come to the floor, as my colleagues know, maybe in some of the their minds too often, but i come down here every morning that we're in session, just about every morning since june, to talk about the importance of extending this job-creating tax
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credit. the p.t.c. has helped create literally tens of thousands of good-paying middle-class jobs all across our nation, and it's, in turn, spurred the growth of the wind energy industry. it's strengthened american manufacturing, which we all deeply care about, and it's helped free us from foreign sources of energy. that's quite a trifecta of successes. and make no mistake about it, it's also underlying the fact that energy security is national security. but as the expiration of the p.t.c. draws near -- and it draws near at the end of this year -- the inaction here in the congress has brought a dark cloud literally over this important american industry. and our workers are paying the price. manufacturers across our great nation and all along the wind industry supply chain have been forced to lay off thousands of workers just in the past several months, and i want to just share
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one example. vestis, which is a leading manufacturer of wind turbines and it has a large presence in high home state of colorado, has laid off hundreds of workers, literally hardworking americans are losing their good-paying jobs because congress has delayed action to extend this tax credit. which, i should point out, has broad bipartisan and bicameral support, so in both the senate and the house, in boa in both ps there's support for extending it. enough is enough. now, luckily we've made some progress. early this year the senate finance committee passed a bipartisan tax extenders bill that would extend a number of important tax provisions and among them the production tax credit. unfortunately, this package, which is critical and is so important to our economy, has sat on the shelf for many months now. and as coloradans tell me -- and i share with you as my colleagues -- that's just simply
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unacceptable. now, as i mentioned, i've made these regular trips down to the floor, and what i've been able to do is highlight individual states and how the wind industry has created jobs and generated power for each of those individual states. in fact, i'm 20 states in and i'm nowhere near done, and that's because almost every state, almost every one of the 50 states has a presence in the wind industry. today i'm going to turn to wisconsin, which has a well-established manufacturing sector historically and that manufacturing sector has retooled to support the wind industry. and, in fact, if you look at the map here, wisconsin has over 22 manufacturing facilities that make parts for the wind energy industry. and in addition to the manufacturing sector, wisconsin has also made big gains in wind power generation. so you can build the turbines and the blades and the towers
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and the cells, but then you can also, if you have a wind resource, you can then harvest that wind. and wisconsin has made big gains in harvesting that wind. the farms there, the wind farms, already provide enough electricity to power 150,000 homes. and the projects that are currently proposed in wisconsin could multiply that number fourfold. and if you look at the economic implications, they're very, very impressive. and, in fact, according to the national renewable energy lab, which i have to say is located in colorado, if even half of the proposed projects were completed, it would provide a cumulative economic benefit of over $1 billion. that's $1 billion. so let's do our part in helping make that investment happen by extending the production tax credit. the p.t.c., as i've pointed out, has helped these wisconsin
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facilities prosper and grow, but this looming expiration would threaten some 3,000 jobs that are supported by this industry in wisconsin. and, madam president, it's also important to note that when the big companies that gain some of the attention in the wind energy world, like seaman's or vestis, announce layoffs because of uncertainty over the p.t.c., there are a lot of other small businesses in the industry that are affected by those decisions. there are literally thousands of parts in a -- in a wind turbine, some 8,000, i think, to be exact. so when you see the industry take a step back, then a lot of those small businesses are dispectd they feeaffected and te downturn as well. we all are really concerned about those families and those communities and the small businesses that are hurt by those sorts of job losses, in wisconsin and all over our
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country. so there -- as i close, madam president, there's a tremendous amount of work that the wind energy industry has done to help restore america's manufacturing base. so with all that potential looming in front of us, we just can't let our inaction stand in the way. so my message to all of us is pretty simple. we need to pass the production tax credit as soon as possible. the t.p.c. equals jobs and we need to pass it asap. and i can't say it enough times. there's no reason for this del delay. it's caused the loss of good-paying jobs and it's set our energy independence goals impact. back. and, madam president, if we don't pass those soon, the rest of world will pass us by, the rest of the world is moving very, very quickly to implement their own wind energy projects and to build the wind energy
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turbines. so let's -- let's just not let this scenario become a reality. let's move in the way that the senate finance committee has showed us we can move. let's extend the p.t.c. here in the senate. i know the house could follow suit. let's just, simply put, pass the production tax credit as soon as possible. if we're focused on the economy, if we're focused on jobs -- this is what we heard from the voters just a short week ago -- let's get the production tax credit extended.madam president, i yiee floor. -- madam president, i yield the floor. mrs. hutchison: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas is recognized. mrs. hutchison: madam president, i think we all know that everybody in america is pretty much talking about the
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fiscal cliff. and what is happening at the end of this year is going to have an enormous impact on the economy of our country and its future. there's no doubt about it. in fact, the nonpartisan congressional budget office projects that the impending tax hikes that will take effect at the end of this year if we don't do something and the spending cuts, called sequestration, would plunge us into a recession in the first half of 2013. it would also set off credit downgrades and drive up interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, and personal and government debt. unemployment, they predict, will rise above 9%, and the constant spending -- half of which will be in the defense -- and the curts in spending, half of which will be in the defense sector,
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certainly will leave america vulnerable. and if there is anything that congress and the president are responsible forks it i for, it e national security of our country. but we can stop this fiscal cliff. we can work together to find solutions. we can answer the calls of the american people, who have said, clearly, loudly and repeatedly, get together and make things happen. i'm happy to see that our distinguished madam president is sitting in the chair agreeing, because we know that there is a common ground. we have seen groups of our senators -- republicans and democrats, a gang of six, a gang of eight, the simpson-bowles -- all of these entities were bipartisan, and they came up with solutions. do we agree with 100% of what is in those plans? no. but they are nuggets that you
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can start from. and what we have to do is sit down and start. republicans are saying, tax increases in this economy are not the right formula. we know that if you tax 100% of every person who makes over $200,000, it's not going to affect the deficit. it is not going to have the impact that i think people expect when they hear, oh, we'll tax the rich. it won't affect us. and that will solve the deficit problem. it will not. it will have no impact on the deficit and who will we hit if these tax increases go into effect, which they automatically will at the end of the december if we don't do something to get us across this
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line? who will it hit? it will hit the middle class, family farmers, retirees and individuals. if the individual income tax brackets are not extended, the current six brackets will be five brackets. it will revert to pre-2001. the lowest end is the one that is going to go up in percentage the most. the 10% bracket will go to 15%, and the 15% stays at 15%. so the people who were paying 10% will now go to 15%, if we don't do something. the rates of the remaining four brackets will increase -- 25% becomes 28%, 2 to 31%.
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on top of that, is the individual alternative minimum tax. we have each year extended the tax relief for what we call a.m.t., the alternative minimum tax. now, the alternative minimum tax was put in place to target a few millionaires. and now, because of inflation and wage increases, it is targeted right at the middle class. unless it is renewed this year, the relief, it will boost 2012 taxes for 31 million americans in the $30,000 to $40,000 wage range. now, really, do people making $30,000 or $40,000 really deserve to have a new alternative minimum tax on top of the tax that they're going to pay, which will be 25% or 28%?
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i don't think so. and it's not what the a.m.t. was meant to target. the increase in tax rates are going to certainly affect our small businesses. now, the economic engine of america is small business. the economic engine of america is not big business, although big business is very important. and i.t. no it's not government. it is small business. over 60% of jobs created in america are created by small business. and yet they're the ones who are not hiring. they're the ones that see their slim margins of profit getting so much slimmer that they're not hiring people because they think the costs are going to be higher because of the new taxes that are impending. 75% of small businesses pay taxes at an individual rate
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because they are shvment -- becy are "s" corporations or flow-through businesses. if you look at that and you look at those rate increases, that is going to be an immediate impact on every small business owner that is organized in that way. with over 20 million americans still looking for work, do we really want to have this kind of economic hit? we need for small businesses to feel confident, and we need stability. i have talked to so many small business people in the last month, as i have been out talking to people in my home state and in other states, and what most of them say comes down to, we just need to know what it's going to be. and we need to know that it's going to stay that way for a while. because that's how they make their plans. they don't want to hire someone
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if we just have a six-month fix or a one-year fix or a two-year tax policy. a two-year tax policy is a nightmare for businesses, because they cannot make a long-term plan. they can't have a strategy that puts three more people on the payroll and then have those costs go up at the end of that three-year period. so, it is important that we give our businesses stability and that we show we understand that they are the economic engine of america and that we want them to succeed. and hire people and give new jobs and get this unemployment rate well below the 8% that it is now into the 6%, 5% range. let's talk about the elderly. now, all of these years i have heard people talking about the
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importance of saving for your retirement. we've encouraged people to do that. now, the people who have done that are looking at a huge tax increase -- madam president, i'd like to have up to ten more minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. sorry. mrs. hutchison: thank you. these are people who have done the right thing. they have saved. they have pride to make sure that they -- they have tried to make sure that they didn't need any kind of government handout, they've earned social security -- that's not a government handout; but they witness to --t they want to know that they can make it because they have saved. now we're talking about raising their taxes on the dividends of any stock they might have invested or might have been in their company 401(k) plan? and we're talking about raising the capital gains rate.
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in fact, the dividend dividendse could be as much as 40%. 40% on dividends are going to kill a plan for retirement. and it is just not right to change the rules when we have always had a lower dividend tax rate or capital gains tax rate -- ought to be interest as well -- for people who have done the right thing to save for their own security. that's what will make a strong economy for our retirees to be able to get the rest that they deserve. what about married couples? two of my long-standing priorities in the senate have been to make sure that we have a level playing field on deductions of state and local taxes. some states have income taxes. some states have sales taxes. some have both.
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a few have neither. but for those who have both, we give them the choice of sales tax deduction or income tax deduction, meaning that on your federal income tax, you don't pay taxes on the taxes you pay. if you are paying a state income tax torque a state sales tax, you should be able to deduct at least one those because there's no reason for you to be taxed on your taxes. so, the -- that deduction expired at the end of last year. if we don't renew york the people who have -- if we don't renew it, the people who have sales or no income tax are going to be severely disadvantaged. it makes at least ad a $500 difference to every person who takes those deductions. that can be a lot for 2 million
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texans to have an average of $500 on taxes they're paying. it is not a level playing field if we don't renew that deduction. there are seven states that do not have income tax and they do have sales taxes. i'm hoping we will have that kind of parity in taxation, which we must do by the end of the year in order to allow that equity to take hold. the second area is the marriage penalty. i passed the original amendment that would double the standard deduction for married couples. this has been a hugely popular tax deduction because in the past, where two single people got married, they would go into the higher bracket and they would not get a double standard deduction. prior to 2001, 25 million couples paid a penalty for being married, and the average was
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$1,400. so if a houston policeman with a taxable income of $50,000 is marrying a data entry clerk ma maybe makes $30,000, they are going to have a tax increase of about $1,000 a year because the marriage personalit penalty wilk at the end of this year. we enacted relief in 2001. it was my amendment. and i hope that we will not leave here december 31 of this year without renewing the marriage penalty tax relief. it will mean $1,000 to $1,400 for married couples as an average, and for sure that is something that they deserve when they get married. they shouldn't have to pay more to get married and make the unit that will make them more stable
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in their family life. so if we don't extend the tax cuts that are in place right now at the end of this year, we are going to see tax relief for the middle class, small businesses, family farms, retirees, and families go away. that relief will a way, and all of their taxes are going to go up. and that's not even counting the surcharges that are going to take effect january 1 of next year in the health care law on dividends and capital gains. so if the dividend rate goes back up to 20%, it's going to be 23%. and if you're in the 39% bracket, it's going to 4 -- approximately 41%. so it is something that we must deal with. the other side of the equation is spending.
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and, madam president, we must do something about the $1 trillion deficits that we have had year after year after year that have made this debt go up from $10 trillion four years ago to $16 trillion today. and we are about to hit the debt limit, and that means we're going to have to increase the debt that is already a wet blanket on this economy. so, madam president, we must come together. we can do it. we can cut spending. we can address entitlement reform that will bring our entitlements in to an actuarial soundness. social security and medicare, which has already sustained enormous cuts in the health care plan that was adopted two years
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ago. and we can't -- we can't sustain either of those programs if we continue to go in the direction that we have been going. so rather than the sequestration which is going to take almost $1 trillion out of our ability to make a determination, half of which is going to come from defense, we've got to do something about it now. we have a ten-year plan that could cut the deficits, but we've got to do more. we've got to enact the next step in budget cuts, and it's got to include entitlement reform, in my opinion. i know that there are disagreements about that, but that's the argument and the discussion we need to have. it is our responsibility.
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we should be using this time today, tomorrow, this week to start putting together a framework of discussion. because we will be in session from the end of november probably up until right before christmas, and the american people deserve to have a solution, something that assures small business that they are going to be able to count on a tax structure that is fair, that can allow them to make a reasonable profit and allow them to hire more people. we've got to cut spending so that we can manage this government in a responsible way without it encroaching on the vibrance of our economy. that is our challenge. and, madam president, i hope this congress is up to it. thank you, madam president, and i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the motion to proceed to the motion to reconsider the vote by which cloture was not invoked on s. 3414, the cybersecurity act of 2012, be agreed to. the motion to proceed be agreed to and that there be up to 60 minutes of debate equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. mr. lieberman: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut is recognized. mr. lieberman: madam president, i thank the chair. i want to begin by thanking the majority leader, senator reid, for being as steadfast as he has been in pursuit of a law that will protect america from what i think most security experts would say today surprisingly is the most serious threat to our security and to our economy, which is from cyber attack and
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cyber theft. the majority leader, with the authority that he has over our schedule, has now called up the cybersecurity act of 2012, s. 3414, for reconsideration. that is to say to reconsider the cloture vote that was held in august and failed to get 60 votes, much to my disappointment. i'm very grateful that senator reid now gives the senate a second chance to do something to protect the american people from cyber attack and cyber theft. and, madam president, if you just look at what's happened since the cloture vote on the cybersecurity act failed back in august, i think you will see how urgently we need to seize this
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opportunity, at least vote to proceed to the cybersecurity act. senator reid has made clear that he would allow a finite number of amendments. finite because, after all, we're in a postelection, so-called lame-duck session. the amendments can't go on forever. but a finite list would allow there to be discussion and to vote on the major concerns of people still seem to have with the compromise bipartisan cybersecurity act of 2012. i will appeal to my colleagues in this statement. don't be recorded as "no." say "yes" to at least allowing a discussion of cybersecurity legislation here, offer some amendments and then, of course, understand that this doesn't --
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we're not a unicameral legislature to, say the obvious. if, as i hope we can pass cybersecurity legislation here, it has to go to conference with the house that i would say has a, describing it diplomatically, a different position than as reflected in the cybersecurity act of 2012 that emerged in part from the homeland security committee which is why i have the honor of managing this debate, brought out with the strong support from my ranking member and dear friend, senator collins of maine, and then working together with senator feinstein, the chair of the senate intelligence committee; senator rockefeller, the chair of the commerce committee; and senator carper, who has had a real interest in cybersecurity and is a leader on the homeland security committee; we bring this legislation forward. we're being given a second chance to raise our defenses
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against the rival nations, enemy nations, industrial spies, cyber terrorists organized anti-american nonstate actors and organized criminal gangs, international organized crime gangs who are constantly probing our computer networks for weaknesses that they can exploit to steal industrial secrets, to take some of the best results of american innovation and entrepreneurship, take it overseas and with it the jobs that come with those secrets. and of course to sabotage critical infrastructure -- power plants, financial systems, telecommunications systems, water systems, and so on and son on -- which are the systems that
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we depend on in our society for our quality of life, for our freedom of expression. so many of them owned by the private sector and managed and controlled now, operated by cyber systems over the internet and, therefore, subject to cyber attacks. the bill is about creating standards for public-private cooperation to raise our defense against spwaoeurb -- cyber attack and cyber theft. everybody you talk to today says we are vulnerable to attack, and this bill only relates to the most critical cyber infrastructure whose compromise, whose attack, whose disabling would result in mass casualties, cass strofbg economic loss --
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catastrophic economic loss and assaults on our security. the best reason for voting on this bill and adoption it today, voting on the notion proceed are -- on the notion to proceed are the facts that occurred in the limited amount of time since august when this initial vote to proceed to the cybersecurity act occurred. on august 15, just two weeks after the last cloture vote, a computer virus called shamoon erased the hard drives of 30,000 computers owned and operated by saudi iranco, one of the world's largest companies.
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as a result, the data files were replaced with images of burning american flags. pretty clear who carried out this attack. the computers were rendered useless and had to be replaced and restored. some cyber experts that i trust say this was the most destructive cyber attack against a private company in history. a similar attack was carried out on the cuttery national gas company called ross gas. and iran, remember the burning american flags -- iran is suspected as the attacker in both instances. well, thanks to quick work, really extraordinary work by aramco and many of the world's
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leading cybersecurity technologists and experts, the damage to saudi aramco was contained but this attack could have tkpwhroepb -- thrown global tphaorbgts -- thrown global markets into chaos if orders couldn't be filled and shipments made. that was in august. two weeks after the last cloture vote on the cybersecurity bill. then in september the consumer web banking sites of some great american financial institutions -- bank of america, j.p. morgan chase, wells fargo, p.n.c. bank and some others -- came under the largest sustained denial of service attack in history. this, as i'm sure most of my colleagues know, is when the web
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sites are essentially overloaded, they're flooded to make it impossible for them to stay up and provide the service they normally do. these attacks went on in different waves for weeks, knocking many of these sites that are very important to commercial life in our country off-line or slowing them to a crawl. just take a look at how much commerce is now conducted over the internet, and i think you can see the potential catastrophe here. these kinds of attacks really could bring our banking system and the economy to its knees. and again, some intelligence officials that i respect suspect that iran or its agents launched these attacks against the american banks. defense secretary panetta warned
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in a recent speech that these and other cyber attacks show that we are approaching a cyber pearl harbor, where -- and i quote -- "an aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches. they could derail passenger trains or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loadd with lethal chemicals. they could contaminate the water supply in major cities or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country." that's not science fiction. that's not an alarmist. that's the secretary of defense of the united states, leon panetta, issuing a warning based on what anybody who works in this field knows is reality. and, madam president, if you think about it, in recent weeks
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we've watched again one section of our country -- in this case the northeast, including my own state of connecticut -- hit by hurricane sandy and then a follow-on nor'easter storm, losing power in some sections -- parts of new york, certainly new jersey hit harder than connecticut but we were hit pretty hard ourselves. but losing power, some still are without power, and this is the third week since the hurricane. this is exactly the kind of dislocation and suffering that would occur if an enemy cyber attacked america's electric power system. it's why we need to at least vote to take this bill up now with a sense of urgency in this session. time's not on our side. we have to act. madam president, the elections are over. the american people, through their votes, have told us in a
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clear and certain voice that they want us to work together to solve the many challenges our nation confronts. i know we're focused on avoiding going over the fiscal cliff, and this is another classic where the challenge to congress is can we solve our fiscal problems? can we come to a bipartisan compromise before we go over the cliff. in this case of cybersecurity and cybervulnerability, the challenge before us is can we come to a bipartisan agreement compromise, and we think we have in the bill before us, and create and improve our defenses before a catastrophic cyber attack occurs, as it surely will, and then we come rushing back to raise our defenses, as we did after 9/11 after we have suffered an attack. mr. whitehouse: mr. president, would the senator yield for a
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question? mr. lieberman: i will. mr. whitehouse: i just wanted to ask the distinguished chairman who just referenced the important word here, compromise, if he has spoken about the extent to which this bill reflects not only the original compromise, the bipartisan compromise between himself and his ranking member, senator susan collins of maine, but then a second compromise done to reach further to our republican colleagues that is actually already embedded in this bill, and i think it's important for the people who are watching and listening to us to recognize that not only was this an original bipartisan bill that was the product of compromise, discussion and negotiation, but then a further unilateral step was taken by the distinguished chairman to move even more towards republican colleagues, and so it's really not only compromise but double compromise that is on the floor right now. mr. lieberman: i thank my friend from rhode island. i thank my friend for his interest in the area of
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cybersecurity and for his leadership. i haven't talked about that yet, and i will right now, which is to say following the advice of most of the experts, both political administrations, last two administrations, experts outside our original -- the centerpiece -- one of the centerpieces of our original bill was to create a public-private process, government, people who live in these sectors of our economy to draft best practices, not to have them imposed by the government, and then to make it mandatory within a set period of time that -- and these practices, these standards would be general principles, not all do's and don'ts to leave room for the private sector to come up with the best way they thought they could meet those standards. now, opponents, particularly in the business community, some of our friends on the other side, have said to us that they feared
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that that would be more regulation of business. senator collins, my ranking member, dear friend, is a leading advocate of regulation reform. but she said -- and righter regulation on -- and lighter regulation on business. she said over and over again, this is not regulation of business. this is protection of our homeland security, of our economy. you will reform regulations. when the regulations seem to be too much and get in the way of economic growth. we have a thread here that is today -- a threat here that is today stealing billions of dollars of american innovation, taking jobs elsewhere in the world. so okay, we had it mandatory but it was clear that we were not going to get to 60 votes. you know, i've said over and over again here that one of the problems we have in this -- in congress now is that people seem to say if they don't get 100% of what they want, they're not going to vote for a bill. so i had to listen to my own
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words here. because if you wait for 100% of what you want in a bill, everybody is going to end up with zero percent. you might as well try to get done what you agree on. so we took a big step, which was to make those mandatory standards voluntary. then we threw in an incentive, which is a lot -- partial liability, immunity from liability in the case of a cyber attack, as an encouragement for those companies who voluntarily opt into the standards that the voluntary process would set up. they get some immunity from liability for prosecution. incidentally, president obama has made very clear, first that he -- he totally gets the seriousness of this challenge to our security, cyber challenge to our security and our prosperity, and he has supported this legislation but he has gone one step further now and said if we
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fail to pass legislation, he will issue an executive order that does as much as an executive order can do to protect america better from cyber attack and cyber threat. the president does have the authority to issue an executive order that will establish standards for cybersecurity for all 18 critical infrastructure sectors under existing law and require those sectors to be implemented in certain areas where the regulators have the power to mandate such -- such observance of the standards. a draft of such a presidential order is now being circulated. but the president doesn't have the power under existing law to offer a lot of the benefits that our bill would give private sector owners of critical infrastructure. for one thing, the president doesn't have the ability to offer the private sector owners the liability protection i have
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just described. in addition, needed changes to the law that permit private companies to share cybersecurity share threat information among themselves and with the government will go unmade. so both sides in this debate have acknowledged that this is a critical piece of any bill but it can't be implemented by executive action. we're the lawmakers, we have the ability to protect our country better than the president does by executive order, but i have appealed to the president that if we are not able to act here, that he should issue this executive order. i am very encouraged by the work done on it, and i'm confident that if we fail to act, the president will act. i think he has a responsibility to act because if we fail to act, we're leaving the american people extremely, extremely vulnerable to a major cyber
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attack, and therefore the legislation is preferrable, and executive order will certainly give the american people more protection. i have more i could say but i note the presence on the floor of my colleague and partner in this pursuit. the chair of the senate intelligence committee, senator feinstein. if you would like to speak, i would yield the floor to you. mrs. feinstein: i thank you, mr. chairman. madam president, if i may, senator lieberman, i really want to compliment you on your work, your sped fast determination to get this bill passed. i think you and your ranking member, senator collins, have really done a very fine job, and i hope to talk about those hours when we sat down with other members trying to negotiate
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something the people might agree to. i am very worried. i am very worried that there will be a major attack on this nation, and i don't really say that without intelligence to back us up. we receive regular warnings that the intelligence community provides to us that attacks are increasing in mum, sophistication and damage. unfortunately, despite significant changes made to the cybersecurity act that senator lieberman, senator collins, senator rockefeller agreed to, many on the other side of the aisle filibustered the bill. since that time, we have learned of additional major cyber attacks. in october and september of this year, at least nine major united
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states banks were hit by a series of attacks that blocked their customers from accessing their banking information or making online transactions. this list of victims includes the country's largest, most sophisticateed financial institutions. the bank of america, j.p. morgan, chase, citigroup, the united states bank, wells fargo, p.n.c., capital one, bb & t corporation and hsbc, all cyber attacked. now, these attacks systematically hit banks for five weeks. they disrupted traffic at each bank for a day or two before moving on to the next victim. it was a well-planned and coordinated cyber attack from bank to bank to bank to bank.
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it disrupted the banking system but it didn't destroy it, but that doesn't mean that they don't have the ability to destroy it. this is a real wake-up call, and i think we ignore it at our own peril. i really have come to believe that it is negligent to fail to pass a bill. i remember i was on the intelligence committee when the director, then-director tenet, came before the committee in the middle of the year sometime and said to us we anticipate an attack. we don't know where, we don't know when, and that attack came and it was 9/11. today there is the same anticipation of a big attack, and we need to put in place the legal procedures to prevent that
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let me go on. in august, a foreign country or organization used computer code to destroy 30,000 computers at the world's largest energy company. that's saudi aramco, and that's saudi arabia's state-owned oil company. so how was this done? now, according to "the new york times," the cyber attackers unleashed a computer virus to initiate what's regarded as among the most destructive acts of computer sabotage on a company to date. the virus erased data on 3/4 of aramco's corporate p.c.'s, documents, spread sheets, emails, files, replacing all of it with an image of a burning american flag. now, if anything is a harbinger of things to come, that is
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clear. why would you put on a major cyber attack burning american flags unless you had some additional intent? we cannot underestimate the threat, and to do so is sheer negligence on the part of this body. in the five months from october october 11 through february, 2012, over 50,000 cyber attacks were reported on private and government networks, with 86 of those attacks taking place on critical infrastructure networks. so we have had 86 attacks on critical infrastructure networks. keep in mind that these 50,000 incidents were only the ones reported to the department of homeland security, so they represent but a small fraction of cyber attacks carried out against the united states.
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this year, 2012, nissan, mastercard and visa join the ranks of major companies to be hacked, joining sony, citi, lockheed martin, northrop grumman, google, booz allen hamilton, visa, r.s.a., l-3, and the chamber of commerce as victims of hacking last year. we also know that last year, for at least six months, 48 companies in the chemical, defense and other industries were penetrated by a hacker looking to steal intellectual property. the cybersecurity company semantec, has attributed these attacks to computers in hebai, china. here's the point. we know we are being attacked by other countries.
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i hear it in intelligence. it is classified, so i can't go into it here, but suffice it to say that we know it is happening. things are only going to get worse. secretary panetta testified to this, and let me just read one section of his testimony. the collective result of these kinds of attacks could be a cyber pearl harbor, an attack that would cause physical destruction and loss of life. in fact, it would paralyze and shock the nation and create a new, profound sense of vulnerability. members of the senate, we are warned. we are warned clearly. we are warned directly, and we are warned by the cyber commander general alexander, as well as